Thursday, 26 January 2017

BETT 2017 Day 1

So its that time of year where we descend on east london and worship at the altar of BETT.

I always enjoy the show and consider it an important event to head to if you are interested in Ed tech. Yes there is lots of selling to avoid, but there are always loads of good opportunities to sample something new, get some free CPD and most importantly talk to people. It is always a great time catching up with people who you perhaps only ever interact with on twitter.

So after a long day has anything perked my interest?

Well yes it has. As always I'm always looking for the next robot. I headed straight to BETT Futures and within the first 5 minutes I'd only seen a few robots that looked quite interesting. 

One is from a company called invent! Which is a crumble based robot and uses the same software as a crumble board. The basic kit seems to be about £50 but have a very  low barrier to entry as it is modular and simple to clip together, together no croc clips. So you can make a robot with sensors or a room guard. For some teachers this could be an ideal kit to start playing around with physical computing, while they get more confident. There was an Arduino version as well that used the same components. 

Simple Robot with switches.

Motion sensor.
I also saw a small robot called a ChickBot which is a low cost robot kit, there were also two versions of this one was a micro:bit based and the other used an Arduino. They are low cost around £17 and are a kit soe has some nice links with DT. The micro:bit one interests me a lot, i'll be getting one.

The InO-Bot from TTS has finally come out, I saw an early version last year. It is a programmable robot that uses a version of Scratch, so is block based so easy to program. It has a large range of sensors and includes slot for a pen that will raise and lower, which for some reason I was very impressed with. The price point is around £100 per unit but if you buy 6 you can get them for about £500 with a charging station. It's an impressive little robot with a large array of sensors. It's a good alternative to an mBot. These already have at school and use successfully with my children. The InO-Bot is more expensive but does have a larger array of sensors. It is definitely worth a look if you are interested in buying a robot for your class,  but I would still look at the mBot first and decide whether the extra sensors are worth the cost.

The mBot is not exactly a new robot but there are a number of new innovations that I spotted for use with Makeblocks mBot. I saw on Google stand, Chosing with Chrome, a web-based interface that will let you program a bluetooth mBot, ( without installing any other software. This is great for schools that have Chromebooks because suddenly is possible for a school to use mBots. Coding with Chrome also works with Sphero and Lego EV3.

 Something else new is that there is a Microsoft Azure plugin for mBlock, which is the software used with an mBot. This gives you access to facial recognition and speech recognition which could be really interesting to use in class. This I need to play with more,

Microsoft Azure and mBlock.

So did I see anything else that caught my interest?

I saw a nice science resource that encourages you to create animations. It has very high quality cardboard cutouts of a variety of scientific processes such as the water cycle, an engine pistons and the earth and moon. The cost of the kits where quite high, and you could make something yourself but they are high quality and it does give a nice context for using animation within science.

Throughout the show one of the big new things was VR. It was all over the show most where using mobile phones with some sort of variation on Google cardboard whether it being a plastic holder or a cardboard one. One stand Avantis had their own solution which was an all-in-one VR headset more similar to a HTC Vive or an Oculus than anything else. It's an android based product and as such has a lot of Android VR experiences. I did query about compatibility with Google Expeditions but they couldn't really give me a clear answer. It works using the Learnpad framework so it deployment of apps and management is fairly easy to use. At £2,000 for 8 headsets, it is a lot but the hardware is impressive. It's definitely worth booking a demo if you're curious about VR technology.

Finally a shout out to PiTop for winning the BETT awards for EdTech Start-Up :o)

Tomorrow I'll be checking out Chromebooks, seeing if there's any more robots I've missed and checking out some more of the CPD.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Courses and Conferences (Updated!)

Hi everyone.

It has been a while as normal with my blogging, real life and teaching takes over. But I thought I would drop a quite note about some events I am attending and running over the next few months.

I been lucky enough to chosen to speak/present at:

South London Raspberry Jam - 14th May in London - I will be running some workshops on Crumble Boards

National Computing at School Conference - 18th June in Birmingham - I will be talking about Crumble Boards and Robotics.

exabytes - technology in education conference - 23rd June in Bradford

1st Wimbledon Raspberry Jam - 26th June


I'm still running my termly CAS Hub session.

CAS Hammersmith Hub - 15th June in Hammersmith

3BM In association with 3BM, I will also be running a series of courses. They will be run in the afternoon from 1 till 4 and then again after school from 4.30 till 6.30. 

Physical Computing at KS2 - Afternoon Session - After School Session

Unplugged Computing - Afternoon Session - After School Session

Using a CodeBug - Afternoon Session - After School Session

Some links to other conferences that also look very interesting: 

Mozfest - 28th - 30th October - (I'll be helping out somehow at this one as well.)

Pycon UK - 15th - 19th September - Teacher day is the 16th.

Please check them all out. :)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

BETT Day 2 and 3.

So it is all over for another year.

So what and who did I come across that perked my interest that is worth sharing?

I started the 2nd day by taking part in two lego workshops. One using the new Lego Wedo 2.0 kit, (Which I have already blogged about here.) and then the EV3 kit.

The first workshop had us redesign Milo the Rovers head, so that it could move. It was a nice task that could easily be extended into design and science. The whole kit has a heavy scientific slant with which many themes that can be linked.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

BETT Day 1

Hi :o)

So my first day at BETT is over.

Thanks to everyone who said Hi, it was great to catchup.

My wearables jacket got a lot of love and it survived.

So did anything stand out? Well today I took a much more floating approach as I had a talk to give on a Stand and was helping on a tour with 3BM in the afternoon. 

Minecraft Education Edition was very interesting. I was waiting to see what Minecraft was going to do with Minecraft since they bought it. It is in simple terms a 'new' version of Minecraft that will replace Minecraft EDU that many schools use. It will be now linked to children's office 365 accounts. While I have some issue with the price, the new system seems to suggest that it will be very easy to install and set up servers. More information is coming on this.

There where many great ideas for how to use Minecraft in the curriculum. (I will do another post soon on some of theses) But below show a model of the human eye that you can walk around.

This one is all about digging up dinosaur bones.

I loved some of the new products form TTS. A NeoPixel Screen (£60)and a Controller (£20) both are to be used with scratch, They are simple to use and provide another level of input and output to Scratch. It makes it very simple to use in class. 

The also had a preview of a new robot called the InO-bot, it is a fairly impressive robots that has a lot of sensors. Its nice but there are lots of robots to choose from on the Market at the moment and I would still look to the mBot.

Before I did my talk on the mBot on the Exa Stand I saw Su Adams (@SuAdamsEdIT ) about the Sphero. Now I really like this robot but her maze idea is great. 

This I saw on another stand at the Show.

Me giving my talk.

Another new robot I saw called the Kubo Junior. It was a really nice KS1 robot that 'read' card on the table and then performed the instructions. They also talked about that it could be programmed in scratch and then even Arduino, by changing the head. It is going to be launched on Kickstarter later in the year.

Ohbot is a great programable head. I have 2 versions of it and think it is a great option for programming a physical device. (More to come later)

Some cool tech - a PiTopCEED which is a £99 screen for use with a Raspberry Pi. I have supported this on Indiegogo. More to come on this.


TTS also was launching a new bluetooth tile board for the Bluebot. Interesting but I think the same thing could be achieved with physical cards and work just as well. Could be good for SEN children. Need to look at again.

Explain Everything an App that we use in school for lessons, is introducing a new app that allows collaboration, It isn;t free, but seems to combine features of Showbie and Nearpod. Worth a further look especially if you really like Explain Everything. 

 Best Freebe of the show today a Mini mode of Milo the new Robot in Wedo 2.0. Thanks LEGO.

Thats all for today. Back tomorrow for more and Teachmeet!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Lego WeDo 2.0

I love robots.

At CES last week Lego announced an updated version of the Lego Wedo kit.

I really like the original kit. Its a great way to get physical computing into the classroom.

The new kit is not massively dissimilar in terms of the input and output options. It contains the same motor, a tilt sensor and light sensor, though the official site states that the seniors have been improved. These all connects now via a bluetooth control box.

The programming input is almost exactly the same as the original. 
So why is this new version so exciting?

Monday, 21 September 2015

Up to Orbit (Nearly)

So this weekend I successful launched a high altitude balloon and recovered the payload. This makes 2 successful launches. This is all thanks to the Raspberry Pi foundation and in no small way James Robinson and David Akerman. 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Links to help videos for Scratch and Kodu - IBM Summer School - IBMCLC


How to make a fish tank animation, fish tank game, race car game and a traffic light simulation

Kodu Guides