Tag Archives: Make Us Laugh

Community Profile: Dr. Lucy Rogers

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/community-profile-lucy-rogers/

This column is from The MagPi issue 58. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition through your letterbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve our charitable goals.

Dr Lucy Rogers calls herself a Transformer. “I transform simple electronics into cool gadgets, I transform science into plain English, I transform problems into opportunities. I am also a catalyst. I am interested in everything around me, and can often see ways of putting two ideas from very different fields together into one package. If I cannot do this myself, I connect the people who can.”

Dr Lucy Rogers Raspberry Pi The MagPi Community Profile

Among many other projects, Dr Lucy Rogers currently focuses much of her attention on reducing the damage from space debris

It’s a pretty wide range of interests and skills for sure. But it only takes a brief look at Lucy’s résumé to realise that she means it. When she says she’s interested in everything around her, this interest reaches from electronics to engineering, wearable tech, space, robotics, and robotic dinosaurs. And she can be seen talking about all of these things across various companies’ social media, such as IBM, websites including the Women’s Engineering Society, and books, including her own.

Dr Lucy Rogers Raspberry Pi The MagPi Community Profile

With her bright LED boots, Lucy was one of the wonderful Pi community members invited to join us and HRH The Duke of York at St James’s Palace just over a year ago

When not attending conferences as guest speaker, tinkering with electronics, or creating engaging IoT tutorials, she can be found retrofitting Raspberry Pis into the aforementioned robotic dinosaurs at Blackgang Chine Land of Imagination, writing, and judging battling bots for the BBC’s Robot Wars.

Dr Lucy Rogers Raspberry Pi The MagPi Community Profile

First broadcast in the UK between 1998 and 2004, Robot Wars was revived in 2016 with a new look and new judges, including Dr Lucy Rogers. Competitors battle their home-brew robots, and Lucy, together with the other two judges, awards victories among the carnage of robotic remains

Lucy graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After that, she spent seven years at Rolls-Royce Industrial Power Group as a graduate trainee before becoming a chartered engineer and earning her PhD in bubbles.

Bubbles?

“Foam formation in low‑expansion fire-fighting equipment. I investigated the equipment to determine how the bubbles were formed,” she explains. Obviously. Bubbles!

Dr Lucy Rogers Raspberry Pi The MagPi Community Profile

Lucy graduated from the Singularity University Graduate Studies Program in 2011, focusing on how robotics, nanotech, medicine, and various technologies can tackle the challenges facing the world

She then went on to become a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in 2005 and, later, a fellow of both the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and British Interplanetary Society. As a member of the Association of British Science Writers, Lucy wrote It’s ONLY Rocket Science: an Introduction in Plain English.

Dr Lucy Rogers Raspberry Pi The MagPi Community Profile

In It’s Only Rocket Science: An Introduction in Plain English Lucy explains that ‘hard to understand’ isn’t the same as ‘impossible to understand’, and takes her readers through the journey of building a rocket, leaving Earth, and travelling the cosmos

As a standout member of the industry, and all-round fun person to be around, Lucy has quickly established herself as a valued member of the Pi community.

In 2014, with the help of Neil Ford and Andy Stanford-Clark, Lucy worked with the UK’s oldest amusement park, Blackgang Chine Land of Imagination, on the Isle of Wight, with the aim of updating its animatronic dinosaurs. The original Blackgang Chine dinosaurs had a limited range of behaviour: able to roar, move their heads, and stomp a foot in a somewhat repetitive action.

When she contacted Raspberry Pi back in the November of that same year, the team were working on more creative, varied behaviours, giving each dinosaur a new Raspberry Pi-sized brain. This later evolved into a very successful dino-hacking Raspberry Jam.

Dr Lucy Rogers Raspberry Pi The MagPi Community Profile

Lucy, Neil Ford, and Andy Stanford-Clark used several Raspberry Pis and Node-RED to visualise flows of events when updating the robotic dinosaurs at Blackgang Chine. They went on to create the successful WightPi Raspberry Jam event, where visitors could join in with the unique hacking opportunity.

Given her love for tinkering with tech, and a love for stand-up comedy that can be uncovered via a quick YouTube search, it’s no wonder that Lucy was asked to help judge the first round of the ‘Make us laugh’ Pioneers challenge for Raspberry Pi. Alongside comedian Bec Hill, Code Club UK director Maria Quevedo, and the face of the first challenge, Owen Daughtery, Lucy lent her expertise to help name winners in the various categories of the teens event, and offered her support to future Pioneers.

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Pioneers Summer Camp 2017

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pioneers-summer-camp-2017/

In July, winners of the first two Pioneers challenges came together at Google HQ at Kings Cross in London for the Pioneers Summer Camp. This event was a special day to celebrate their awesomeness, and to give them access to some really cool stuff.

Pioneers: Google Summer Camp 2017

In July this year, winners of the first two Pioneers challenges came to Google HQ in London’s Kings Cross to meet, make and have an awesome time.

The lucky Pioneers

The summer camp was organised specifically for the winners of the two Pioneers challenges Make us laugh and Make it outdoors. Invitations went out to every team that won an award, including the Theme winners, winners in categories such as Best Explanation or Inspiring Journey, and those teams that received a Judges’ Recognition. We also allowed their mentors to attend, because they earned it too.

Code Club Scotland on Twitter

Excited about @Raspberry_Pi Pioneers day at @Google today with @jm_paterson and The Frontier Team #makeyourideas https://t.co/wZqfqqgZuL

With teams of excited Pioneers arriving from all over the UK, the day was bound to be a great success and a fun experience for all.

The Pioneers Summer Camp

The event took place at the rather impressive Google HQ in King’s Cross, London. Given that YouTube Space London is attached to this building, everyone, including the mentors and the Raspberry Pi team, was immediately eager to explore.

YouTube Space London

image c/o IBT

In rooms designed around David-Bowie-associated themes, e.g. Major Tom and Aladdin Sane, our intrepid Pioneers spent the morning building robots and using the Google AIY Projects kit to control their builds. Every attendee got to keep their robot and AIY kits, to be able to continue their tech experiments at home. They also each received their own Raspberry Pi, as well as some Google goodies and a one-of-a-kind Raspberry Pi hoody…much to the jealousy of many of our Twitter followers.

Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017
Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017
Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017

Meanwhile, mentors were invited to play with their own AIY kits, and the team from pi-top took accompanying parents aside to introduce them to the world of Scratch. This in itself was wonderful to witness: nervous parents started the day anxiously prodding at their pi-top screens, and they ended it with a new understanding of why code and digital making makes their kids tick.

Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017

After the making funtimes, the Pioneers got to learn about career opportunities within the field of digital making from some of the best in the industry. Representatives from Google, YouTube, and the Shell Scholarship Fund offered insights into their day-to-day work and some of their teams’ cool projects.

Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017
Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017
Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017

And to top off the day, our Pioneers winners went on a tour of the YouTube studios, a space to which only YouTube Creators have access. Lucky bunch!

The evening

When the evening rolled around, Pioneers got to work setting up their winning projects. From singing potatoes to sun-powered instruments and builds for plant maintenance, the array of ideas and creations showcased the incredible imagination these young makers have displayed throughout the first two seasons of Pioneers.

Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017
Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017
Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017
Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017

As well as a time for showing off winning makes, the evening was also an opportunity for Pioneers, mentors, and parents to mingle, chat, swap Twitter usernames, and get to know others as interested in making and changing the world as they are.

Raspberry Pi Pioneers Summer Camp 2017

The Pioneers Summer Camp came to a close with a great Q&A by some eager Pioneers, followed by praise from Raspberry Pi Foundation CEO Philip Colligan, Mike Warriner of Google UK, and Make it outdoors judge Georgina Asmah from the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund.

Become a Pioneer

We’ll be announcing the next Pioneers challenge on Monday 18 September, and we’re so excited to see what our makers do with the next theme. We’ve put a lot of brain power into coming up with the ultimate challenge, and it’s taking everything we have not to let it slip!

Well, maybe I can just…don’t tell anyone, but here’s a sneek peak at part of the logo. Shhhh…

One thing we can tell you: this season of Pioneers will include makers from the Republic of Ireland, thanks in part to the incredible support from our team at CoderDojo. Woohoo!

We’ll announce the challenge via the Raspberry Pi blog, but make sure to sign up for the Pioneers newsletter to get all the latest information directly to your inbox.

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Pioneers winners: Make it outdoors challenge

Post Syndicated from Olympia Brown original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pioneers-winners-make-it-outdoors/

To everyone’s surprise, the sun has actually managed to show its face this summer in Britain! So we’re not feeling too guilty for having asked the newest crop of Pioneers to Make it outdoors. In fact, the 11- to 16-year-olds that took part in our second digital making challenge not only made things that celebrate the outdoors – some of them actually carted their entire coding setup into the garden. Epic!

The winners

Winners of the second Pioneers challenge are…

We asked you to make it outdoors with tech, challenging all our Pioneers to code and build awesome projects that celebrate the outside world. And we were not disappointed! Congratulations to everyone who took part. Every entry was great and we loved them all.

We set the challenge to Make it outdoors, and our theme winners HH Squared really delivered! You best captured the spirit of what our challenge was asking with your fabulous, fun-looking project which used the outdoors to make it a success. HH Squared, we loved Pi Spy so much that we may have to make our own for Pi Towers! Congratulations on winning this award.

Watching all the entry videos, our judges had the tricky task of picking the top of the pops from among the projects. In additon to ‘theme winner’, we had a number of other categories to help make their job a little bit easier:

  • We appreciate what you’re trying to do: We know that when tackling a digital making project, time and tech sometimes aren’t in your favour. But we still want to see what you’ve got up to, and this award category recognises that even though you haven’t fully realised your ambition yet, you’ve made a great start. *And*, when you do finish, we think it’s going to be awesome. Congratulations to the UTC Bullfrogs for winning this award – we can’t wait to see the final project!
  • Inspiring journey: This category recognises that getting from where you’ve started to where you want to go isn’t always smooth sailing. Maybe teams had tech problems, maybe they had logistical problems, but the winners of this award did a great job of sharing the trials and tribulations they encountered along the way! Coding Doughnuts, your project was a little outside the box IN a box. We loved it.
  • Technically brilliant: This award is in recognition of some serious digital making chops. Robot Apocalypse Committee, you owned this award. Get in!
  • Best explanation: Digital making is an endeavour that involves making a thing, and then sharing that thing. The winners of this category did a great job of showing us exactly what they made, and how they made it. They also get bonus points for making a highly watchable, entertaining video. Uniteam, we got it. We totally got it! What a great explanation of such a wonderful project – and it made us laugh too. Well done!

The Judges’ Special Recognition Awards

Because we found it so hard to just pick five winners, the following teams will receive our Judges’ Special Recognition Award:

  • PiChasers with their project Auqa (yes, the spelling is intentional!)
  • Sunscreen Superstars, making sure we’re all protected in the glorious British sunshine
  • Off The Shelf and their ingenious Underwater Canal Scanner
  • Glassbox, who made us all want Nerf guns thanks to their project Tin Can Alley
  • Turtle Tamers, ensuring the well-being of LEGO turtles around the world with their project Umbrella Empire

Winners from both our Make us laugh and Make it outdoors challenges will be joining us at Google HQ for a Pioneers summer camp full of making funtimes! They’ll also receive some amazing prizes to help them continue in their digital making adventures.

Massive thanks go to our judges for helping to pick the winners!

Pioneers Make it Outdoors Raspberry Pi

And for your next Pioneers challenge…

Ha, as if we’re going to tell you just yet – we’re still recovering from this challenge! We’ll be back in September to announce the theme of the next cycle – so make sure to sign up for our newsletter to be reminded closer to the time.

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Fail your way to perfection

Post Syndicated from Olympia Brown original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/fail-perfection/

As educators and makers at Raspberry Pi, we think a lot about failure and how to deal with it constructively. Much has been written about the importance of failure to design and engineering projects. It is undoubtedly true that you can learn a lot from your mistakes, like getting the wrong size of part, mistyping your code, or not measuring when doing your DIY. The importance of failure has even become a bit of a common trope: just think of those slightly annoying inspirational quotes attributed to famous historical figures which you find all over social media.

I-have-not-failed—Edison

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Thomas Edison.

Failure can be good!

But, as with many a cliché, there is an underlying truth that it is worth revisiting. Designing, engineering, and creating all involve making mistakes along the way. Even though failures feel bad, by reaching out when something goes wrong, you can call on the expertise of your community, learn, and make the final result better.

However, we often think failing also makes us look bad, so we don’t talk about it as an essential part of the process that got us to the end stage. We make things shiny and glossy to big-up our success, putting all the focus on the result. This tendency is, however, not necessarily helpful if we want to help educate others. As Jonathan Sanderson of NUSTEM puts it:

Jonathan Sanderson on Twitter

stem educators: worth noting: confessions of rank stupidity in digital making get responses, sympathy, offers of help on Twitter. (1/2)

Jonathan Sanderson on Twitter

yet our write-ups only feature the things we did right. Mis-steps and recovery from failure are key parts of process. (2/2)

The NUSTEM team truly believes in this: when sharing their builds, they include a section on what they would do differently next time. By highlighting the journey, and the mistakes made along the way, they are not only helping those that also want to go on that journey, they are also demystifying the process a bit.

Celebrate your fails

Because failure feels bad, we don’t routinely celebrate it. But there are niches where failure is celebrated: Simone Giertz’s (slightly sweary) YouTube videos are a great example. And then there is Hebocon, the Japanese competition for cruddy robots. In fact, the organisers of Hebocon make a great point: crafts that do not go as intended are interesting.

This is as much true when working with young people as it is in the wider world. In Pioneers, we also want to do our bit to celebrate failure. Our judges don’t just watch the teams’ videos to see how they overcame what went wrong along the way, they also have an award category that celebrates wrong turns and dead ends: ‘We appreciate what you’re trying to do’. Our first challenge‘s winning entry in this category was PiCymru’s We Shall Overcomb:

PiCymru : Make us Laugh Challenge

The video of the PiCymru teams Pioneer challenge entry! The team wasn’t able to get things to work the way they hoped, but wanted to share the joy of failure 🙂


The category name was suggested by our lovely judge from the first cycle, stand-up comedian Bec Hill: it’s one of the accepted heckles the audience can shout out at her stand-up scratch nights. Scratch nights are preview events at which a comedian tests new material, and they are allowed to fail on stage. We may not often think of comedy as embracing failure, but comedians do scratch nights specifically to learn from their mistakes, and to make the final product all the better for it. Interestingly, scratch nights are hugely popular with audiences.

So, if you’re working with a group of young people, what can you do to encourage learning from failure and not let them give up?

Helping you to fail better

In our book Ideas start here, for Pioneers mentors, we’ve given a few tips and phrases that can come in useful. For example, if someone says, “It isn’t working!”, you could respond with “Why not? Have you read the error log?” RTFM is a real thing, and an important skill for digital life.

We agree with engineer Prof Danielle George, who believes in being honest about your failures and highlighting their importance to where you’ve got now. “I fail a lot,” she says. “The trick is to embrace these failures; we don’t have to succeed the first time. We learn from our mistakes and move forwards.”

If, as a mentor, you’re not sure how to encourage and support those not used to failing, this article also has some more tips.

If nothing else helps, but you need to feel inspired, think about what someone said to Karen, who sucks at surfing:

Karen, you are actually pretty good at surfing. Keep in mind that billions of other humans wouldn’t dare even try.

How about you? If you have a story of what you learned from failure in one of your projects, share it in the comments!

Mistakes GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

Discover & Share this Mistakes GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

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Pioneers Winners: Make Us Laugh Challenge

Post Syndicated from Olympia Brown original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pioneers-winners-make-us-laugh/

After months of planning and making, we’ve come to the end of the first cycle of our new digital making programme for teenagers: it’s time to announce the Pioneers winners!

We laid down the epic challenge of making us laugh. And boy, did the teams deliver. I can honestly say that my face hurt from all the laughing on judging day.

The judges

The aim was to find a group of judges with a varied mix of interests and skills. We were beyond chuffed to snag this awesome group:

Dr Lucy Rogers

Dr Lucy Rogers having fun judging Pioneers Winners
Dr Lucy Rogers transforms simple tech into cool gadgets, science into plain English, and problems into opportunities. She’s a fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and author of the books ‘It’s ONLY Rocket Science‘ and the soon-to-be-published ‘Wiring the IoT‘. She’s also a Raspberry Jam organiser, a judge on BBC’s Robot Wars, and the person responsible for introducing Raspberry Pi-controlled animatronic dinosaurs to the Blackgang Chine Land of Imagination on the Isle of Wight.

Owen Daughtery

Owen Daughtery gif
Owen Daughtery is a graduate of Raspberry Pi’s Creative Technologists programme and an enthusiastic maker. You’ll no doubt recognise him from our original Pioneers videos and his inability to say a certain phrase. When he’s not making videos for us, or for his YouTube channel, Owen is also a skilled magician.

Bec Hill

Bec Hill gif
Comedian Bec Hill has a talent for incorporating arts and crafts into her stand-up routines, creating a unique and unforgettable comedy style that she calls ‘paper-puppetry’. She’s also creator of Pun Run, one half of entertainment duo Bec & Tom, and has voiced several characters for the newly released Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Maria Quevedo

Maria Quevedo gifMaria Quevedo is the director of Code Club UK. She’s amazing at yoga, cooks a mean Spanish tortilla, and originally hails from Argentina. She was also raised in a stationery shop, which is pretty much my dream. According to members of the Code Club team, Maria is delightfully calm under pressure…though she did fail to keep her cool when faced with judging the Pioneers winners.

The Pioneers winners

Winners of the first Pioneers challenge are…

After months of planning and making, the first round of Pioneers is over! We laid down the epic challenge of making us laugh. And boy, did the teams deliver. We can honestly say that my face hurt from all the laughing on judging day. Congratulations to everyone who took part.

Congratulations to the theme-winning team The Technological Tricksters and their project, Singing Potato. As Bec explained in the video, this project made us laugh…a lot. And through our tears of laughter, we were pleased to see the use of several different skills, along with a killer Gollum impression.

Alongside the overall theme winner, we also awarded prizes for the following five categories:

  • Inspiring Journey: the winners of this award experimented with a range of technologies, learned new skills and produced a final project that worked perfectly. Congratulations to Heritage Hackers and their Water Pistol Trap for winning this award.
  • Best Explanation: the team that hit the perfect balance of detail about what they made and how they made it were Black Thunder. We loved the explanation you gave for building your Living Joke Robot. Well done!
  • Technically Brilliant: the team that used the most impressive combination of technologies were the Shady Hackers with their Scare Chair Rig. Great use of a fire alarm hack…though we hope you didn’t use the home one.
  • We appreciate what you’re trying to do: making is a hobby which involves mistakes along the way, and it’s best to carry on without getting discouraged. Just because you haven’t finished, it doesn’t mean that you can’t submit your work to Pioneers and explain what you wanted to do and how. PiCymru‘s We Shall Overcomb did exactly that. We hope you manage to complete your project as we’d love to see it working!

Not forgetting…

Everyone was completely blown away by the projects we saw. And though we couldn’t award every entry a prize, the judges agreed that the following four projects deserved special recognition rewards for their teams:

Electrocuting computer mouse

Our mean boss wouldn’t let this one win (to be fair, we did say not to hurt anyone), but it genuinely made all the Raspberry Pi staff laugh which wins it a dishonourable mention from me. It was also a great hack of an electric fly trap. Well done Team Spark Wire…but maaaaybe try to be a little less lethal with your next submission.

And finally…

To everyone who took part in the first Pioneers challenge, thank you so much for your contributions, and congratulations on everything you achieved. You thrilled us with your tweets, emails, and final submissions, and we hope you also learned some great new skills and possibly made some new friends along the way. Massive thanks to our friends at the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund for making Pioneers possible. Find out about their awesome work here.

The next Pioneers challenge is…

Shhh! It’s still a secret. We’re not announcing the new challenge until April, so keep your eyes on both the Pioneers website and our social accounts, and sign up to receive the Pioneers newsletter!

Until then, remember to always #MakeYourIdeas.

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