Category

robotics

The Manchester Science Festival 2016

By | 3D design, 3D Printing, Raspberry Pi, Road Trips, robotics, Science, Technology | No Comments

Every now and again the Wavemaker team go on a ‘learning day’, and this week we had one of those days. Last time it was Liverpool, and this time it was another northern powerhouse, the city of Manchester. From the 20th-30th October, Manchester hosted its very own Science Festival. Situated at venues right across the city, it boasts conferences, workshops, family activities and exhibitions covering all the various and wonderful forms of Science.

With only one day allocated to seeing what the Festival had to offer, we had a tight schedule to work with, to ensure we got to see as much as possible. Travelling into Manchester by train, we likened it to the school outings of our youth, turning round and talking through the gap in the chair, full of anticipation and nervous excitement. It’s safe to say the Wavemaker team needs to get out more, but none the less we were looking forward to a day filled with everything science.

First stop on our tour was the Manchester School of Art. A fabulous, modern building situated off the bustling Oxford Street, the Benzie Building was hosting an exhibition titled Mesh. This exhibition, covering the third floor and the mezzanine levels in between, showcased artists creating and experimenting using 3D printers and 3D design. As a space that offers 3D printing, we were intrigued to see what had been created, how far 3D printing can be used in order to make interesting exhibits. The products and creations were simply beautiful, a real mesh of ideas and materials, bring technology well and truly into art.

Our next stop was just up the road at the Manchester Museum, to watch a piece of hand painted stop motion animation called Ocular Bionica, exploring the use of technology in medical advances. This particular piece focused on sight loss, and the ability to regain sight using a microchip placed in the retina. It was a really thought provoking short film, and really showed the possibilities that technology offers in improving our health and quality of life. The museum itself is also fascinating in its own right. For anyone that has never visited, you should. It is a building packed with Egyptian artifacts, fossils and even the skeleton of a T-Rex. With plenty of activities on offer for children, and all for free, it is definitely worth a day spent exploring.

We then trundled to Deansgate, jumped on the Metro and hot footed it down to MediaCity, located on Salford Quays. We were there to see the Silent Signal exhibition, within the University of Salford building. Again a series of shorts and animations, and again there was a continued focus on science, the formation of cells, insomnia, and the beauty of helix. These shorts definitely veered towards the abstract and the arts, but it was great to see the two combined and delve into the art within science.

Back on the tram to Deansgate, we made the short journey to the Museum of Science and Industry, the main hub of the Science Festival. The museum was a hive of activity, with many a half term bee, buzzing from one exhibition stand to the next. We explored space, the catalytic qualities of gold, renewable water systems and even coded our own train signal using the BBC Micro:Bit. The Museum had stalls from all over the country, rooms filled with science professionals and enthusiasts. You could have easily spent hours there, trying out each experiment and learning amazing new things. The Manchester Science Festival had been a hit, and by the time Wavemaker departed, like true festival goers we were exhausted but jubilant. If you’d like any more information about what we saw, or would like to suggest similar activities Wavemaker could host, then get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

out-landscape-blue

Is it Easter already?!

By | coding, Laser cutting, Minecarft, Music, robot wars, robotics, Sonic Pi, young people | No Comments

It’s been a busy Easter here at Wavemaker, two weeks filled with exciting and innovative activities….if we do say so ourselves!

 

Kicking off this chocolate marathon was our first workshop on Tuesday 29th March, Make you own Charm Bracelet. This workshop gave participants the opportunity to learn how to use Illustrator software to create custom charm designs, the laser cutter and then assemble their bracelet using jewellry tools. The session included both parents and their children working side-by-side to create, which was brilliant to see and something that we wholeheartedly encourage here at Wavemaker.

The session was a real success, and it was a great way to link technology with more traditional crafting skills, which is definitely a theme we hope to continue. By the end, everybody left the workshop with a bracelet adorned with personalised charms from stars and hearts to hamsters….yes hamsters…which strangely was a recurring theme throughout the week!

 

On Wednesday 30th it was the turn of a technology that has already had meteoric growth over the last few years and is set to boom in 2016, Virtual Reality. With Google launching the Google Cardboard in 2014/15 and smartphone technology now making virtual reality more accessible to the masses, this was an area of growing technology that Wavemaker felt needed exploring by the people of Stoke-on-Trent. Leading the session was Ollie and Sam from So Visual, a commercial photography company based in Stafford who also specialise in image stitching of your workspace/gym/home.

The workshop saw an influx of both parents and children, giving them the opportunity to build their own VR cardboard device and also feature in their own virtual reality environment, which was stitched together during the workshop. Using a special 180 degree fisheye lense and tripod, So Visual took photos of the group in a circle at 90 degree intervals and then stitched the images together to make our very own virtual reality mockup of our makerspace. Information about each person in the group was also written and then added to the VR environment so that pop-ups would appear when moving through the VR space. The session also gave the group information about the best VR applications available and there was also playtime, which allowed the group time to play in Virtual Reality and see whether their new assembled VR cardboard stood the test of virtual time.

Thursday’s workshop was a personal highlight for everyone at Wavemaker, a day that few here will forget. We were lucky enough to have one of the creators of the cult TV show Robot Wars host a session building small super antweight robots. John Findlay from Roaming Robots, now travels the country and internationally hosting robot competitions, events and workshops both public and private. John even made many a Robot Wars dream come true and bought in the world-famous Matilda for a meet and greet. For those of you don’t know Matilda, I suggest you look her up, (as a girl that grew up with two older brothers she was a personal hero.)

The session saw groups divide into teams, design and build their own ‘antweight’ robots. A robotic hamster also made an appearance, boasting a string tail and whiskers. Attention to detail was definitely high in that particular animal loving team. What followed was passion to rival any football derby or sporting competition, a head-to-head robot battle. The aim was to knock the opposing robot out of the sumo circle, best of three. Teams took it in turns to remotely control their robot, testing their design to the maximum in an effort to achieve eternal robot glory. The makerspace took on the atmosphere of an amphitheatre, adults and children alike cheering for their favourite cardboard gladiator. The three sessions that ran that day were fully booked and a day which Wavemaker will always remember.

 

This weekend was split exploring new emerging technology at the NEC’s Gadget Show and also hosting another hugely successful Building in Minecraft session, run in conjunction with the BBC Get Creative Day. This allowed young people across the city to come together and share their love of Minecraft in a two-hour free play and building session. Our next session will take place at the end of April so keep an eye on our facebook page and website. After all this weekend activity Wavemaker were ready for our second easter week of workshops. The first of these was Sonic Pi, hosted by its inventor Dr. Sam Aaron. This was such a momentous occasion for music and coding enthusiasts alike that I have created a blog post just for it. Check out Sonic Boom: A Day with Sonic Pi creator Dr. Sam Aaron for a full low down on that day’s events.

Last but in no means least was Wednesday 6th April workshop on Building your own Website in Weebly. The number of young people that attended this session was amazing, and they created some interesting and varied websites for you all to enjoy from football and rugby facts and figures to information on scratch coding and how to care for hamsters….yep told you it was a recurring theme!

 

All in all the Easter holiday has been a huge success, we have had new visitors to the space and have hosted some fabulous workshops, the likes of which have not been available in the city before. We will now pore over the feedback and begin to design a new programme for half term and also the summer, both of which we promise will offer workshops and experiences that you don’t want to miss!

 

bus-banner-education

Half Term Wavemaking Workshops

By | 3D design, 3D Printing, coding, Craft, digital, minecraft, Python, Raspberry Pi, robotics, Science | No Comments

For anyone who has ever watched the late 80’s film Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner the phrase, ‘Build it and they will come,’ will be a familiar one. That is exactly how we felt here at Wavemaker when we decided to organise a half term activity programme, which took place last week here at the Mitchell Arts Centre. Okay, we weren’t building a baseball pitch for the deceased baseball legends of the past but the goal seemed at times just as far fetched. This was our first real foray into the world of workshops and offering the people of the city the opportunity to learn new and exciting skills.

 

The week was packed with range of different activities from Metal Embossing with the brilliant local artist Belinda Latimer, Robotics with Kai Longshaw one of our regular makers to computer coding using Python and Raspberry Pi, run by two contributors and coding wizards, Rich Steele and Sam Freeman. We even had Birmingham City University student and past Holden Lane pupil Liam Witham leading his first 3D Design workshop, using skills that he has honed during his study of Architecture.

 

To our delight all the workshops were received fantastically well, Mr. Costner knows best after all. We had a range of ages participate across the week, with parents even getting involved in the workshops, learning new skills alongside their children, which was brilliant to see.

 

The young people that attended were a pleasure to work with, and some even taught us new skills and techniques! Some who attended the morning introductory workshops even decided to stay on for the more advanced afternoon sessions, which was a true testament to the talent of the workshop leaders and interest they generated around their activity.

 

All in all in was a week of fun and learning for all involved, especially the Wavemaker team! Individually we learnt how to code using Raspberry Pi, how to assemble a robotic arm and how dangerous yet amusing TNT can be in a game of Minecraft.

 

As we start to evaluate the feedback from our half term week, we will endeavour to use this to structure our next holiday workshops sessions at Easter.

The popularity of some workshops, especially the group building in Minecraft, has prompted us to think about hosting more regular sessions throughout term time, including weekends so get your Minecraft t-shirts washed and ironed for that! Full information on this can be found on our website and Facebook as soon as they are announced in a few weeks time.

 

We built it and people came, what more could we have asked for. Massive thank you to everyone that was able to attend, we had a great time and hope you did too. And if you don’t want to take our word for it, Edwin a 7 year-old Minecraft Wizard who attended some of our workshops said it was ‘Epic, awesome and brilliant’, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves. We hope to see you all again very soon.