So what happened in 2017?

Well that has flown by. It seems only 5 minutes since the start of 2017 and so much has happened since. It’s been a great year, so much has happened since the start of it and I hope to capture it all in this blog post.

Highlights of 2017


3D Printing!

In January I received another 3D printer. It was a 101 HERO which I backed on Kickstarter back in 2016. Now, as this was a cheap £70 I was not expecting much, I wasn’t even expecting it to ever turn up! But to my surprise it actually turned up. It came in kit form with the box pretty battered as this was all that was protecting it:

Once it had arrived we started building it, the printer came 90% assembled which I would say is correct and it was simple to build but not so easy to setup.
The 101hero had two backing options a creators kit and developers kit. The difference between the two was a USB port and about £10. A few months after the campaign they decided that they were both to come with USB to save money. I went with the Developer kit as I quite like USB printing. Although, it took 30 minutes before my PC wanted to communicate with the printer.

I finally got it working (with added snooker in the background):

The result of the print was, well as Les Pounder correctly described it. Like a Borg Cube rather than a normal one 😀

Ryan Walmsley asked what would happen if I turned up the speed, no more words:


Coding Workshops at the Harris Museum

At the start of 2017 a new makerspace room was setup at my local museum. It is a space aimed at anyone who wants to make a project of any kind. I was contacted by one of the Curators, Caroline Alexander, as the museum wanted to run a coding workshop to see if that type of thing would be recieved well by the children in the local area. So, in February we ran the first Introduction To Coding workshop at the makerspace.

Within a few hours of the tickets going live, this happened

As for the workshop, well it went great! Everyone enjoyed it and the workshop are still on going, in fact, we are setting up a more regular code club next year and we see people return every time!


Derbyshire Computing Conference

Back in March, I was invited to the Derbyshire Computing Conference. This was a council run event that saw over 200 primary and secondary computing teachers attend to learn about the new computing curriculum here in the UK.

I was asked to run a workshop on EduBlocks and do a talk on Primary School Computing from a students point of view with Elise Ainsworth

My workshop demonstrated how we can use cheap electronics, e.g. lights from the pound shop, with the Raspberry Pi to do some Physical Computing. I took an old Pringles tube, a Raspberry Pi, some poundland (or PounderLand) lights and Minecraft to create a hide and seek game. This was the result:

So we set off to Derbyshire at about 6:00am in the morning:

Then I ran my workshop:

After lunch, we did the talk:

Raspberry Pi 5th Birthday Party

At the Raspberry Pi 5th Birthday party in Cambridge, I ran a workshop on EduBlocks. The same one I did a few days earlier in Derbyshire. It was great fun and so was the whole weekend:


Makerfaire UK Newcastle

In april I got the chance to visit Makerfaire UK in Newcastle. This was a huge event with UK based makers and companies showing off projects and selling items to make your own. It was a very diverse event not only showing technology but arts and crafts too. There was lots off cool things going on but here are a few of my favourites:

Visit to Pimoroni

A highlight of this year had to be Bilge Tank. I was invited by Paul of Pimoroni to appear on the show and tell the world about EduBlocks. This was really where EduBlocks started to take off and it has now been downloaded in over 32 countries!

The guys at Pimoroni are awesome and you should check out all the cool stuff that they sell in their shop HERE

Here is the video:


Blackburn Festival of Making

In May, I was invited to help Raspberry Pi Foundation at the Festival of Making event in Blackburn. We were showing the public what the Raspberry Pi could do and how it is being used in schools across the world.

Pi-top futureCHAMPION

In May I was selected to become a pi-top futureCHAMPION. This means that I have access to 4 pi-top CEEDS to take around and demo projects and run workshops. This has allowed me to do so much more coding workshops than I could have done before due to the practicality of the Ceeds!

Raspberry Jamboree Manchester

A new event was started in May called ‘Raspberry Jamboree’. These have been previously run by Alan O’Donohoe but was taken over by Les Pounder & Claire Wicher. This event saw lots of people from around the UK give talks and workshops on the Raspberry Pi, it was a great event.


Tech4Good awards announcement

In June I was nominated for a BT Young Pioneer award for my work on EduBlocks. In June, I announced the voting for the Peoples award and the maker community pulled together to vote for me.

The voting went wild, and my notifications were filled up for about a month with people voting. If you voted, thank you for all your hard work you put into the campaign.

Magpi Article

In June, I wrote an EduBlocks tutorial for Magpi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine. This issue was a Minecraft special so I showed how EduBlocks can be used on the Raspberry Pi using the Minecraft API.

Liverpool Makefest

For the past 2 years I have exhibited at Liverpool Makefest, and this year was no exception. I demoed the basics of EduBlocks along with selling some Electronic Starter Kits.


Tech4Good Awards Ceremony

As part of the Tech4Good Awards is the ceremony, this is where the winners were announced. I went along to the ceremony with Les Pounder & Chris Dell (A developer who works with me on EduBlocks).

The day did not get off to a very good start as the train was delayed but we got to London in time.

I did not win anything, but it was a great experience nevertheless!

Makersphere 2017

This year along with a few other people organised a conference that saw over 450 people attend at a local Primary school. It consisted of a range of different making workshops from people around the country. The day was a huge success and you can see what happened below:


VMware Training

In August I was invited to the first VMware enablement days in Manchester. This was a week long course where I learnt how to use Virtual Machines in a Business environment. At the end I took the exam and got the qualification to become the second youngest VMware Associate.


PiPool 2017

In September, we participated in the Pi Pool challenge. Me, My Dad & Les made a Raspberry Pi powered hovercraft, and we won 2 of the challenges!

National Coding Week

For National Coding Week I rand 5 workshops at the local primary school on different coding subjects each day. These ranged from Sonic Pi to EduBlocks + much more. Here is a summary of some of the days:



At Blackpool Makerspace we recently setup our K40 Laser Cutter after making a few safety adjustments. It was great fun to setup and it is a great machine for £400.

PyCon UK

In October, 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. I attended the Saturday, Sunday & Monday.

You can read about my experience at PyCon UK here:

John Pinner Award

At PyCon UK I was nominated for a John Pinner Award. John setup PyCon UK 10 years ago but sadly died 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.

To my suprise I was a recepient of one of the awards and recieved it with Cat Lamin on the Sunday of the conference.


MakersHour Hosting

I got to host MakersHour! Something I have wanted to do for a long time. This is a twitter chat where makers gather from across the world to share what they have been making that particular week.

Here is the storify:


New pi-top review

I got the chance to get hands on with the brand new pi-top modular laptop, I took a video review of how to build it and what I thought of it. The video can be viewed here:

Congrats! You made it to the end!

So, 2017 has been a great year for me and I look forward to 2018 and what it brings. Thanks to all those who have helped me this year! Happy New year!

Categories: General


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