A summary of the time I spent at PyCon UK 2017 in Cardiff
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit PyCon UK at Cardiff City Hall as I was invited to help out with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. What a weekend it was! The conference took place from Thursday 26th October – Monday 30th October. I did not attend the Thursday and Friday as I was in school, but on those days Raspberry Pi held their Picademy teacher training course. So, let me round up my adventure at PyCon UK 2017.
On the Saturday, PyCon UK held a Children’s day. This consisted of 2 activity rooms. One for Code Club & one for Raspberry Jam. The day started off with my workshop in the Code Club room. Of course, I ran an EduBlocks session but with a new resource. Based on an original resource by the wonderful Martin O’Hanlon. The aim is to create a working traffic light in Minecraft and then use a 3D Printed Traffic Light Model to create a real life working traffic light in sync with the Minecraft one. A link to the resource can be found here. I had a packed out workshop with over 60 people! (30 children & 30 adults).
— Andrew Collins (@ascollins) October 28, 2017
== Above: Pictures of the EduBlocks workshop at PyCon UK ==
The workshop lasted 1 hour and the feedback was excellent. Straight after my workshop and a small break was my talk. In this I covered the story of EduBlocks from day one how it has evolved and what is coming up in the future. It went down really well and I got lots of questions and feedback on how I can take the product further. Below is the presentation I gave. I shall add the video when it is published:
After my workshop & talk, I helped out in the Code Club and Raspberry Jam rooms. A range of different workshops were ran like:
- Learn Python with Code Club projects: Race turtles with your friends!
- Get hands-on with Raspberry Pi in a junk modeling workshop using Python
- Build your own project hackathon
- Make a Cipher Wheel using PyGame
At the end of the Code Club Hackathon, all the children who wanted to give a show and tell of what they have made got up on stage in front of the whole conference and gave a small talk on what they had made. I helped a young girl called Chloe adapt the Minecraft Traffic Lights workshop with a button and Sonic Pi to create a Pedestrian Crossing. The photos of the children’s lightning talks can be found below:
All of the projects were amazing, especially for the age of the children. Straight after the children’s presentations were the lightning talks. These were picked at random and were exactly 5 minutes each. By luck, I was picked to give a 5 minute talk in front of the whole conference. These talks were given in the assembly room
which is a magnificent part of the City Hall
I really enjoyed giving a lightning talk and it was definitely a highlight of the conference for me. A video of my talk can be found below:
Sunday was a great day at the conference for me and it is a day I will never forget. In case you did not know, PyCon UK has been going for 10 years. It was started up by an active community member called John Pinner. Sadly, John passed away 2 years ago. In memory of him setting up PyCon UK, the organising committee ran the John Pinner Awards. The recipients of these awards were the people who got the most nominations. The Monday before the conference, I received an email from Nicholas Tollervey (He’s a really nice guy, you should follow him!) to say I had received an award. Now, I have no clue who nominated me but by reading the comments had people put, it makes creating EduBlocks worthwhile. I received the award alongside Cat Lamin (More about Cat later on). It was such a privilege to receive it and below is a video + some photos:
I spent most of the day at the micro:bit summit. This was a very interesting range of sessions which included:
- How To Run A Workshop with micro:bit
- Tales from the front line of school IT
- Accessories, modules and micro:bit, best practice, (avoiding copy/paste)
- micro:bit – Show, Tell and Try
- micro:bit Discussion – the first 90% and the second 90%
- How (not!) to build a micro:bit, what we learned working on a large collaborative project
All of which were very interesting. At 11:30 I went to a talk by Cat Lamin from pi-top called “You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps”. This talk was about mental health and coding, something that most people are scared to talk about. This was such an inspiring talk and was definitely my favourite out of all the ones I went to. A video of Cat’s talk can be found below:
Half way through the day was the micro:bit show and tell. Some of you may remember the Little Big Awards run by CISCO (now Little Big FUTURES). My school entered a micro:bit epileptic fit detector which sent a message to a relatives phone so they could respond. It went down very well at the show and tell and it is a project I hope to continue in the future
Monday was the code sprints day. For that day I spent time working with Daniel Pope creator of PyGame & PyGame ZERO adding his libraries into EduBlocks. Also, I spent some time with Nicholas Tollervey working on getting EduBlocks to work with micro:bi t. Stay tuned on twitter for more news about that. I also got to catch up with Ben Nuttall to work on improvements to the gpiozero feature in EduBlocks.
HUGE thanks to the organising committee for running such a fabulous event and letting me do a talk and a workshop at PyCon UK. So, was it worth going to PyCon UK and should you visit next year?