Monthly Archives: February 2012

Autonomous quadrotors and the James Bond Theme

 

In a video premiered at TED2012, autonomous quadrotors from the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab perform the James Bond Theme.

There is some impressive research coming out of the GRASP Lab; last month, they showcased the quadrotors flying in menacingly perfect formation.

Quadrotors are great fun — check out some of the Arduino-based platforms e.g. ArduCopter, AeroQuad.

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Hack To The Future

h2df

I recently had the pleasure of being a keynote speaker at Hack To The Future, organised by Alan O’Donohoe (a.k.a. @teknoteacher) and held at his school, Our Lady’s Catholic High School in Preston.

Hack To The Future was pitched as an unconference to inspire the digital creators of tomorrow, attempting to introduce the wonders of computer science to over 250 children (in many cases, for the first time). Alongside the main keynotes from Samantha Bail (Manchester Girl Geeks), Jon Howard (Development Manager for Games in BBC Children’s Future Media) and an anonymous ethical hacker known only as Freaky Clown, there were a large number of breakout sessions, including: building fun things with Nanodes, creating games in HTML5, building a digital camera with the Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer, programming apps with YOUSRC, 3D printing, non-transitive dice, computer-controlled pyrotechnics and an unofficial peek at the new BBC Micro 2 development platform. In fact, there was great support from the BBC, with representatives from across BBC Learning and BBC R&D, as well as a roving camera crew recording the day’s events.

I had the honour of giving the final closing keynote (slides), attempting to send them away inspired with the possibilities of computer science and technology, but also highlighting the importance of technology curiosity: hacking, playing and having fun. I truly hope I was successful!

For a full run-down of the event, have a look at Alan’s comprehensive blog post; I also highly recommend BBC R&D research engineer Michael Sparks’ thoughts about the day.

 

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2011 CAS Wales/Technocamps Conference

On Friday 1st July 2011, Computing At School (CAS) Wales, in partnership with the Technocamps project, hosted their inaugural conference at Swansea University. The aim of this one-day conference, with the tagline Computing at School: Enhancing the STEM Curriculum for a Digital Wales, was to provide teachers, senior management teams, examination boards, higher education academics, industry and education policymakers with a forum to highlight and discuss the important issues surrounding Computer Science education in Wales.

It featured keynotes talks from:

  • Jeff Cuthbert AM, Deputy Minister for Skills, Welsh Government
  • Gary Stone, Head of Strategy & Operations for Digital Wales, Welsh Government
  • David Davies, Director of NHS Engagement, NHS Wales
  • Clare Riley, Group Manager, Education Relations, Microsoft
  • Professor Roger Boyle, Computing At School

Over 100 attendees participated in a wide range of workshops and policy panels to discuss curriculum and qualifications, as well as sharing best practice for teaching Computer Science. This event was the culmination of nearly a year of discussions on education and science policy, focusing on the strategic importance of Computer Science within the wider STEM agenda [1,2,3,4,5] and was widely reported in the media [1,2,3,4]. A Storify of the event is also available.

CAS Wales 2011 Wordle

This successful event has highlighted the importance of Computer Science, from an educational, scientific and economic perspective, and has laid the foundation for future curriculum and qualifications reform in Wales.

CAS Wales and Technocamps will continue to work together in 2012 to drive forward this agenda.


(N.B. this blog post was moved from its original location, having been first published in August 2011))

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