With the launch of a new round of Microbit electronics courses in a number of Salisbury schools, what better way to show of the capabilities of the little Microbit board than building a project of our own. Here we are building an animated Zoltar fortune telling machine and below is an update video and walkthrough on how it’s made. Don’t forget to make a wish!
As this term’s coding classes and clubs come to an end, I would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and all the very best for 2022. Earlier in the term I was challenged by one of the Microbit groups to build something fun using the methods we’ve been learning about. This is the progress so far, it’s a fortune telling machine (that looks a little scary at the moment). You put your money in and ask it a question. “Have I been good this year?”
Sorting out the components for next week’s electronics lessons. We’ll be learning about motor control which opens up a whole world of possibilities. Previous projects that have come out of the course include an automatic plant waterer, a greenhouse window opener/closer to help regulate temperature and a motion activated cat feeder.
Towards the end of the summer I posted about a project that was in development that involved recoding payphones, the original post can be read here. People from far and wide have approached me and have offered their help since the summer and the project has evolved even further. As a result it was featured on the BBC News website and also the local radio. The radio interview not only played on local radio here in Wiltshire but has since been picked up and played across the whole country – something that I just find incredible. Even more mind-blowing is that the radio interview was the most popular radio story of last week! All it took was a little acorn of an idea and a bit of code.
First Coding teaches important computing skills across a range of areas such as Scratch and Python coding as well as app design too. This year a few students entered an app design competition and I did the same. I would like to share with you my journey so far, for a project that started out as a competition entry has now evolved into a countrywide project aimed at highlighting mental health and I hope this encourages others with ideas of their own to create and share.
You may recall my entry from various Facebook posts whereby I was creating a new telephone network. Not only is it designed to save the old phone boxes from extinction by repurposing the payphones within them, myself and others have been hard at work collecting payphone telephone numbers with a view to ringing them all together at known times when people are at their lowest. When picked up a message of hope and reflection will be played raising awareness of mental health causes. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to work all the payphones in Salisbury but now after just a few weeks I can reach boxes across the whole country – this is both unbelievably fantastic and a little bit scary at the same time. I am now working with support organisations to help develop the message that will be played.
I didn’t win the competition but an idea doesn’t have to be award winning to have an impact. It really doesn’t matter if what you make is not worthy of first place, you just have to make it!
First Coding was approached by Satchel, the people behind the Show My Homework platform and asked to host a series of talks designed to show pupils how to develop applications for smartphones.
The talks were suitable for all abilities, covering everything from the basics, to building your first app, before looking at ways to distribute your projects via the app stores. Hopefully students have realised that it’s not as difficult as they initially thought and are encouraged to start developing their ideas this summer.
It was also really nice to be invited to talk again after such a long break due to everything going on in the word at the moment.
It has been a busy time for First Coding with our GCSE Computer Science tuition sessions proving popular but we’re also going to be involved in a number of really exciting projects in and around Salisbury.
There are plans to get involved with a local creative hub based in the city, as well as collaborations with local independent business and more exciting school clubs to come. In the meantime, it would be nice also post about inspirational projects, so I’m kicking things off with my TED talk about the benefits of creative coding from last year.
The workshops got off to a great start this week, in particular the BAFTA Young Game Designers course as students work towards creating their awesome games to enter into the national competition.
Do you find yourself stuck for inspiration when it comes to making games? We’ve put together the Ideas Generator to help you out. Just click on the link and hit the spin button to get a new, random game idea. Click here to spin.
JOIN FIRST CODING AS WE MAKE A LOCKDOWN COMPUTER GAME
Starting Friday 24th April
First Coding is about to start making its first computer game inspired by the current lockdown. We’ll be making Lockdown Letters step by step in a series of weekly videos, with a new one available every Friday.
We would love it if you followed along and made your own version of the game – adding your own ideas too. The concept is simple, you’re one of many people in a town currently under lockdown and you must circulate letters of encouragement to other households to keep the town’s spirits up. You can only communicate with people by writing notes on paper aeroplanes and flying them to their destinations.
We’ll be building the game in Scratch, and during the guide, you’ll find out how to make the game, converting it to HTML so that you can package it up for distribution, and even some tips on how you can earn some cash from your game.
At First Coding, we regularly submit the games we make in Scratch to game design competitions, competing alongside Unity developers and other independent game designers. Never assume Scratch is something only younger children use! You can see our recent Scratch competition entries at The Rocket Arcade if you’re interested!
Starting Friday 24th April on Facebook and YouTube!
Like our Facebook page and YouTube channel to follow your dreams of becoming a games designer. Open to all ages and abilities. Every week a new video will be posted, along with the opportunity to view previous sessions if you may have missed. There will be four weekly videos concluding with a fifth live Q & A session.
First Coding would like to share some great news with you all!
We have a year 8 pupil who is fanatical about animation and coding. This summer he worked on a complicated interactive animation built in Scratch and designed a web page around it to really show it off. We then sent it through to Aardman and last week one of their creative directors wrote the loveliest reply…
“I think he has done brilliantly! To do ALL that, and at the age of 12, is fantastic! He has a long and exciting career ahead of him, he can go in any direction he chooses, and to be so dedicated at such a young age is wonderful to see. Well done, I look forward to what he creates next!“
This is a great example of how children can unlock their potential through creative coding.