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young people

Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition

By | 3D design, artists, coding, Craft, digital, Laser cutting, minecraft, Music, Raspberry Pi, Science, sewing, sewing machine, stoke, summer, Technology, Vinyl Cutting, Work, young people | No Comments

Even though the sun is still shining over Stoke-on-Trent in September…yeah we’re not sure what’s going on either….one thing is for certain, here at Wavemaker, the summer is officially over and what a summer is was! Stoked!

After six, activity packed weeks, our Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 programme came to a brilliant end on Friday 2nd September, with our Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition. It was the first time Wavemaker had attempted to organise any event like it. A whole day, open to the public, showcasing all of the fabulous makes and creations of the summer. But here at Wavemaker, we are nothing if not ambitious, so whatever the outcome, we were going to go for it!

Now this wasn’t the “National Portrait Gallery” style of exhibition. Yes, there were information plaques….all laser cut on card, because that’s how we roll…but everything was there to be looked at, touched, picked up and explored. The ‘No Touching’ sign at galleries has always suggested a challenge rather than an instruction, so this exhibition was going to be different. Child-friendly and an opportunity to play, was high on the agenda when it came to planning our big day.  

Our Makerspace became a gallery for the day, all the different makes from the holiday laid out, from our printed tote bags, to our Minecraft Steve cushion. We also had our rubbish fashion creation from our BIG Make, displayed in all its recycled glory. Pinhole cameras and their developed images snaked to the ceiling, as the 3D printer laid out another fascinating creation, layer on layer.

In our breakout area, the BIG Make Retro Games Arcade was ready to play, alongside laptops showcasing our Summer Scratch Code Club Competition entries. Our entries were all so imaginative and entertaining. The only criteria was that they had to be focused on Stoke-on-Trent and the great things about our city, in keeping with our bid for UK City of Culture 2021. We had oatcakes, Back the Bid animations and timed bottle kiln building. Our winning entry came from a Code Club member, Ryan, who at 9 years old is one of the younger members of our Wavemaker Code Club, alongside our brilliant second place Eva-Jayne, another fellow Code Clubber.  Ryan created a scratch game which featured his very own character “Oatie”, yep, you guessed it, an oatcake. It also featured a Spitfire, drawing on the heritage of fellow potter, Reginald Mitchell. For those who don’t know, Reginald Mitchell designed many planes, including the Spitfire, which gained critical acclaim during WWII, although unfortunately, Reginald died before he saw the true success of his creation.

Judging the entries was Tim Wilson, Regional Co-ordinator of West Midlands Code Club. Tim very kindly popped in early afternoon, had a play on the scratch creations, investigated the code and selected a winner. That winner was Ryan, who was thrilled to be awarded the first prize, which was a BBC Micro:Bit, which will hopefully encourage him to continue coding and making.

Alongside our Scratch entries, we had a different coding software for people to have a play with. Processing software is an open source programme developed by visual artists, using a form of javascript code. It was introduced to us at a workshop run as part of the Micro World sessions run in conjunction with the Leicester City Festival. It was a brilliant introduction into coding to create moving images and visual pieces of art, if it sounds like something you would be interested in, check it out here.

Downstairs, we had Minecraft, a game and educational tool, that has proved extremely popular since we began running Building in Minecraft workshops in spring this year. Our exhibition gave people the opportunity to explore our online Wavemaker world, have a look at some of the amazing builds on display and also have a play. We also showcased our fantastic BIG Make Graffiti art, a collaboration with the talented artists at Entrepreneurs in Piccadilly, Hanley and some budding young street artists, who joined us during the holidays to try their hand at spray painting. The piece they created was on proud display, alongside a time lapse film of it being created.

We also wanted the exhibition to host some locally established artists, so we were very happy to display pieces from Entrepreneurs’ clothing line, which included screen printed T-shirts, My Name is Mike and Amy Davis, two artists based at the ACAVA Spode Artist Studios, who both submitted very interesting pieces for the public to look at and explore.

A big thank you goes out to everyone who attended, submitted items, entries and also helped make the day and the Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016, a great success and one to remember! After all that summer excitement, Wavemaker is now closed to the public for two weeks, to give us time to refuel and freshen up for the Autumn/Winter term. We’ll be back with a firework bang in no time at all.

#StokedonTech: Week 3

By | 3D design, artists, coding, digital, Laser cutting, Minecarft, Raspberry Pi, Science, sewing, stoke, summer, Technology, Vinyl Cutting, Work, young people | No Comments

The creative waves are still rolling in at Wavemaker, especially during the third week of our Stoked-on-Tech summer programme. Our third week was all about street art and stencils, using the laser cutter and design software to produce some brilliant images.

There were many highlights of the week, including Wednesday’s “Make your own printed Tote Bag”, which saw people as young as eight years old master design software skills to create their own personalised bags. Of course Minecraft Steve made an appearance, as did some really unique japanese inspired designs. At the end of the workshop everyone certainly had a bag for life.

We were also joined by a community group on Wednesday afternoon, as part of Appetite’s Big Feast weekend preparations. The group again learned design software skills to produce stencils using the laser cutter. Now, those of you who have tried should understand when I say, creating stencils is the trickiest thing. Trying to visualise in your head what will be cut, what images you will lose once cut, is a mind bending process. What was once an intricate image with beautiful detail can quickly become a big hole in a piece of card, an empty outline of nothing. So it’s not as easy as you might think, but our guys did a brilliant job!

We also ran a sold out Graffiti stencil workshop on Friday to a room full of eager makers, wanting to know all the tips and skills needed to be the next Banksy. And boy, were they hot on the Bristolians heels. We had cats, dogs, hamsters in wheels, as well as octopuses and minecraft swords. There’s no doubting it was an eclectic mix.

Running alongside this fantastic workshop, we also had the privilege of hosting two very talented local graffiti artists Tom Edwards and Andy Cooke, from Entrepreneurs in Piccadilly, Hanley. These boys, alongside fellow artist and businessman, Rob Fenton, also run the Hall of Fame legal graffiti wall in Stoke, as well as Upstairs Gallery and Present Screen Printing workshops. To say these guys know what they are talking about is an understatement! For the whole day, Tom and Andy took it in turns to create a live piece of graffiti art on the patio area of the Mitchell Arts Centre, as part of our BIG Make. People were also welcome to come along, have a look and also have a go at spray painting stencils onto the piece. The sun was shining, the paints were flowing, it was a great afternoon. Who knows, maybe our very own Blek le Rat was born that day.  

The holiday continues to roll on with workshops centred around dressing the city for the bank holiday extravaganza, Appetite’s The Big Feast, which will showcase a whole weekend of street performances, art and culture across the city. Wavemaker will also be working with Future Lights, a Staffordshire University supported competition for recent ceramics graduates from across Europe, where we will introduce them to new technologies and possibilities in ceramic design. And if that wasn’t enough, Friday 2nd September Wavemaker will have its very own Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition. This will give the opportunity for makers across the summer to showcase their creations from the various workshops, and also give local artists in the city the opportunity to exhibit their work, bringing together present artists from the city with our future makers. We want to give young people in the city the chance to meet current artists and make them aware that the career opportunities are there to do what you love, and love what you do.  

The holidays may be drawing slowly to a sunny close, but there’s no doubt the last few weeks will be some of our busiest. #StokedonTech #LoveStokeLouder

Stoked-on-Tech: Scratch Coding Competition

By | coding, Science, stoke, summer, Technology, young people | No Comments

Calling all Coders! Whether you love Coding or are new to this fun and creative skill, this competition is for you.

To celebrate and promote Stoke-on-Trent’s City of Culture Bid 2021, Wavemaker have teamed up with the nationwide coding network Code Club and other Code Clubs around the city, including Hanley City Central Library,  to bring you an exciting competition for you to showcase your coding talents!

What do I need to do?

We would like you to create a piece of Scratch coding all about our amazing city, Stoke-on-Trent!

It can be:

  • A quiz
  • A game
  • An animation
  • An interactive sprite….or anything you want.

What are the rules?

  1. Coders must be aged 13 years and under
  2. Scratch project MUST be about Stoke-on-Trent and showcase all the amazing things the city has to offer!

How do I enter?

  1. Download Scratch for free if you haven’t got it all ready.
  2. Create your project.
  3. Open an online Scratch account for free at www.scratch.mit.edu
  4. Upload project to your online account.
  5. Share your Scratch project with the WavemakerStoke – Stoked-on-Tech Summer Coding Competition Studio on the Scratch Website bit.ly/wavemakerscratch

***Make sure that you get permission from an adult to enter and you put your name, age and a way of contact through a parent/guardian into the Notes and Credits section of your project.***

How long do I have?

Projects must be submitted into the Scratch studio (see above details) by 5pm on Friday 26th August. The best projects will be showcased at the Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition on Friday 2nd September at the Mitchell Arts Centre, Hanley ST1 4HG. The Code Competition Runners Up and Winners for each age category will be announced at 2pm on Friday 2nd September, so make sure you can attend to claim your prize and Coding glory!

Get thinking. Get Coding. Get Creating.

#stokedontech #sot2021

Summer, Summer, Summertime!

By | coding, Craft, digital, Minecarft, Raspberry Pi, Science, sewing, sewing machine, stoke, summer, Technology, Vinyl Cutting, young people | No Comments

Summertime is officially here…..well we’ve been forecast a heat wave lasting three days and that is good enough for me! Unfortunately, long gone are the days of six week holidays, staring into the abyss of summer, no school and the constant reminder that only boring people get bored and that my parents were not there to provide entertainment….water fight it is then.

Parents, don’t you fear this summer, Wavemaker is here! This summer we have launched our Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 activities programme. Six weeks of fun, making and creating, to keep your little (insert word here) entertained, interested and most importantly happy! With mornings ranging from Minecraft (Building in Minecraft)  and textiles (Make your own printed Tote Bag) to exploring new technology like Periscope (Introduction to Periscope) and also learning about the history of photography(Make your own Pinhole camera) Wavemaker have covered all bases. It really is a summer programme bursting with new activities, giving our community the opportunity to learn great skills and also the encouragement to carry on developing existing interests.

To run alongside the summer activities we will also be launching a special Scratch coding competition in association with Code Club and other clubs across the city. This competition involves children, 13 and under creating a piece of Scratch coding to promote the amazing things in the city, a way to really back the UK City of Culture 2021 bid. The competition will run for the whole summer and entries can be made by going to bit.ly/wavemakerscratch or check out our Scratch Coding Competition post for full details. We will also be running a Code Club drop in on Wednesday 17th August 2-4pm to help support anyone who needs guidance and support whilst creating their coding.

For a long time it’s felt like Stoke-on-Trent has a reputation of being a ‘down and out’ city when compared to its local counterparts, Wavemaker and ‘you’ are going to help change this. This summer our Stoked-on-Tech programme is all about bringing creativity and positivity to our city, instilling in our young people and community that Stoke-on-Trent has an abundance of talent, it’s a great place to live and we need to start saying that more often. I was told once not to hide my light under a bushel, and now Stoke-on-Trent needs to do the same. Let’s show off this summer!

Over the last few weeks we have been putting the finishing touches to our programme, thinking about all the things we could offer to keep people happy during the holidays. Designs by Weather designed and put together some amazing promotional material for us to spread across the city and online. Bookings are now being taken everyday for our different activities and the great thing is that they are affordable. The most you will pay for a two hour workshop is £5.90 and what’s even better is that there are a number of activities that are absolutely free! All you have to do is book on and turn up.

Another fantastic thing about Stoked-on-Tech is that we are running BIG Makes throughout the six weeks. BIG Makes will vary each week from creating a dress made completely of recycled rubbish, helping build a retro game arcade machine to creating a graffiti mural in Wavemaker HQ.  BIG Makes will take place Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons 2-4pm. They will be absolutely free and people can just pop in for as long or as short a time as they want to and get involved with our BIG Make.

With all this going on and everything being created, we quickly realised that if this summer was about showing off the talents of the city, we would need something to showcase this…that’s why we are hosting the Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 Exhibition on Friday 2nd September 11am-4pm at the Mitchell Arts Centre in Hanley…which is where Wavemaker is based if you didn’t know that already! The exhibition will be a brilliant way to present all of the amazing makes and creations that have happened over the summer. We will also be awarding prizes for the best makes of the summer, including the best Scratch project!  It will be open to the public and anyone who may or maynot have been involved is invited to look around at raw Stoke-on-Trent talent. We also want to take submissions from established makers in Stoke-on-Trent to come and show their work alongside the creatives of the future. This will be a fabulous way of bringing together the city and showing our community how great we are. If I had a Stoke-on-Trent trumpet it would be tooting its head off right now! So sit back and unwind this Summer, Wavemaker have got this covered.  #makersgonnamake #stokedontech #sot2021
For more information about our Stoked-on-Tech activities and exhibition please go to bit.ly/Wavemakersummer2016 or contact info@wavemaker.org.uk

Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 is here!

By | artists, coding, Craft, Laser cutting, Minecarft, Raspberry Pi, stoke, summer, Technology, young people | No Comments

Our brilliant Stoked-on-Tech Summer 2016 activities are here and ready to book!

This Summer in Stoke-on-Trent, Wavemaker want you to get creative!

We want to spread this positive vibe around our wonderful city. We are a place for your to experiment, innovate, and bring your ideas to life.

Our amazing, jam packed programme has loads to offer from Minecraft Monday’s to our brilliant city-wide Code Club Competition, Recycled Fashion, Textiles and loads more! Every week we will also host a new Big Make project in the afternoon for anyone to drop in and help out.  

Bring your Activity Planner to each activity to earn creativity points and prizes!

The best makes will be put on display during our Stoked-on-Trent Summer 2016 Exhibition on Friday 2nd September.

 

To book visit www.bit.ly/Wavemakersummer2016

#StokedonTech #LoveStokeLouder

Time flies when you’re making fun

By | artists, Craft, Minecarft, Raspberry Pi, sewing, sewing machine, stoke, Technology, young people | No Comments

Time just seems to be flying here at Wavemaker, it doesn’t seem two minutes since we welcomed in the New Year but six months seem to have flown by! May has been a particularly busy month, Maker Days are now in full swing, new groups are coming in for workshops and the last half term of the school year was lying in wait at the end of the month, which could only mean one thing. Workshops.

A workshop that I was particularly excited about was the Introduction to Sewing using a Machine, and I wasn’t only excited because I was leading the workshop…I’m not bias…I just love sewing and making. To prepare for the workshop I decided to do some CPD (Continuing Professional Development), and go to a sewing workshop to brush up on some skills. This workshop was run by Abakhan, a fabric shop and favourite Hanley haunt of mine. This particular session was at a store in Mostyn, North Wales. I say store, it was more of a converted farm complex, that boasted workshop rooms, hobby and fabric shops as well as a lovely cafe and gift shop. This CPD sounds terrible I know, and to make it even worse the sun was shining all day which made eating lunch outside unbearable…Who am I kidding, this is the best type of CPD I’ve ever done! Boasting aside, the workshop was extremely useful and laid to rest some fears around running my own sewing workshop, especially as this was the first one Wavemaker had ever done.

Back at Wavemaker, the sewing workshop day had arrived. The white machines stood proudly on the tables, the needles reflecting the rays of the early morning sun, ready to be reined by cotton thread like a cavalry of mechanical horses or metallic soldiers marching steadily across fabric fields, laying down line after line of stitching with military precision. Okay, maybe not military precision, the first class was specifically for parents and children after all, I could already hear the sound of the machines racing at breakneck speeds as foot pedals were pushed very firmly to the metal, the controller of the machine momentarily imagining themselves caught up in a Hollywood movie car chase, rather than creating a very fashionable and versatile accessory, the infinity scarf, or snood to those who know their Birkin’s from their Alexa’s.

These concerns aside, the day was a brilliant success. The parents and the children had a great time learning a new skill. The pride and sense of accomplishment of creating something out of nothing is a feeling that makes you truly happy. That moment when you finish, take a step back and admire your efforts, congratulate yourself at your ability to create does wonders for self-confidence, especially in children. That’s not to discredit the adults in the session in anyway, and in the all ages workshop that ran in the afternoon, theses feelings were reflected just as strongly. Helping to improve people’s skills and confidence is the underlying ethos of Wavemaker and I like to think in months and years to come, when our participants sit down in front of their trustee sewing steeds they will think back to their session, and my words will echo in their minds just like Mister Miyagi during the final fight scene in Karate Kid. Sorry I digress.

On Friday of half term, what is fast becoming one of Wavemaker’s most popular activities made an appearance, but this time with a twist. That activity is Minecraft. To those of you completely unaware of what this is, it is a computer game that allows you to build in a virtual world using pixel blocks. That is the extremely simplified version! The twist was that rather than building houses, bridges and towers made of rainbow glass they were making art using the pixel blocks and a Raspberry Pi. The young people who attended could create whatever they wanted within their Minecraft frame. We had Super Mario, Mushroom and Pokeball to name but a few. In the afternoon we went from computer screen to paper, with children designing pixel art on 16 x 16cm grids before copying these images using 1cm squared tiles glued into a wooden frame. The creativity and finished pieces were truly fantastic and really effective. It was great to create links between modern and more traditional mediums of art and making. The session was relaxing and yet productive, the young people walking away with an array of pixel art to proudly showcase and display on bedroom walls, a true testament to their creative skill and imagination .

All in all, half term was a really successful week and although the workshop output smaller than usual due to the Bank Holiday, the activities that we did run were thoroughly enjoyable. Wavemaker are now designing and putting together ideas for our summer activities programme, we are also open to suggestions, so if you have any ideas, get in touch by emailing info@wavemaker.org.uk.

Sonic Boom: Our Day with Sonic Pi creator Dr. Sam Aaron

By | Astro Pi, coding, Music, Raspberry Pi, Sonic Pi, young people | No Comments

In a world that is dominated by computers, software, apps and social media, coding is king. It is a skill that will only become more desirable, especially to employers around the world, whose businesses will continue to rely more and more on software and programming. And one man has created something that will inspire the coders of the future tenfold, and that man is Dr. Sam Aaron.

A relative unknown to those not submerged in the world of coding, Dr Sam Aaron has invented a means of teaching young people about coding through the most popular medium known to man, a medium that unites people and one which I haven’t met anyone yet in life that doesn’t enjoy, and that thing is music.

Sonic Pi is a piece of software that allows users to create live music using code, more specifically Ruby, for those of you aware of coding languages. Aaron is at the forefront of this new technology and as he personally invented the concept, we thought him the best person to deliver our Sonic Pi workshops that took place on Tuesday 5th April. Aaron spent the first eleven years of his life in Stoke-on-Trent, (yes, Stoke-on-Trent! Take that you Jason Mountford Stoke-on-Trent facebook post trollers) and now calls Cambridge home. Aaron has created Sonic Pi as an educational tool to encourage young people to become more involved in coding, it is also a funded project that is free to download online. Driving an underlying belief that children need to know why they are performing certain tasks within education and through using Sonic Pi, children get an immediate response to their code, this response being live music.

Here at Wavemaker, we were thrilled when Dr. Sam agreed to come into HQ at the Mitchell Arts Centre in Hanley and deliver not one but two amazing workshops. For coding and music enthusiasts, like ourselves, we had a celebrity in the world of coding coming to visit!

The first workshop that Sam delivered was to children and young people. It was a sell out session and gave the group an introduction to Sonic Pi and time to play in the software to create their very own composition, complete with with synths, effects and samples. The workshop highlighted some great coding and musical talent among the young people in the city. I wouldn’t be surprised, in time, if another Potter became an expert Sonic Pi DJ with world-wide fame, given the number of fantastic musical pieces that were created in that workshop.  

In essence, Dr. Sam is also a DJ and travels the world performing using Sonic Pi. Wavemaker were also introduced to Alga -Raves, dance nights across the country, that specifically play live coded music….it’s safe to say Wavemaker will be making an appearance at one of these in the near future!

The second workshop was aimed at adults, teachers and coding enthusiasts who wanted to know more about Sonic Pi at a more advanced level. The group included music technology lecturers from the local universities and colleges as well as those from a coding background. In this session Aaron demonstrated the lengths to which Sonic Pi can be used, how advanced the software is and just how amazing it is to listen to live coded music. With a small performance at the end of the session, Aaron really highlighted how mind-blowing this kind of music can be and also enjoyable.

In a lot of ways it is not only a skill but a true art form, a combination of something ancient in history, universal in enjoyment, combined with new technology that transcends the now common place turntable, apple mac DJ booth. To create live music in this way is truly a meeting of traditional and modern musical minds, and one which shows no sign of stopping in its popularity and growth. Sonic Pi is available to download for free for Microsoft and Mac, there is also learning resources available online for anyone who wants to give it a go. After such a fantastic experience, we are hoping to get Dr. Sam Aaron back to his homeland once more for a proper performance, a showcase for our already music loving and musically talented city of what the future holds. Watch this space.

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!

 

mkr-banner-sewing

A Slice of Sonic Pi

By | Astro Pi, coding, digital, Music, Raspberry Pi, Sonic Pi, Technology, young people | No Comments

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly gifted when it comes to technology. For me, it conjures up images of old school workshops lined with heavy tools, the smell of sawdust and an aproned teacher, with a constant look of anxiety and exasperation etched across their face.

And Information Technology also left me scratching my head; unable to produce nothing more than a powerpoint or poster emblazoned with clipart. How times have changed.

Over the last ten years technology and our everyday interaction with it has grown beyond recognition. I have relatives under the age of seven that can operate a tablet better than I can, and whilst my parents generations keep up as best they can (my father has a hand-me-down iphone 1 which he would consider cutting edge) people of my generation have had no choice but to embrace it, if only to keep an eye on what the younger, cooler folk are doing.

Here at Wavemaker, technology and its evolution is something that drives everything that we try to do and offer. Gone are the tools and soldering irons (for now) and in their place stand laptops, a 3D printer and a laser cutter, which can do in minutes what would have taken you a whole term and multiple injuries to produce. And even though our end goal is provide a service that encourages creation through the more traditional, practical methods as well as digital technology,  it is with this digital technology that is our initial focus.

If you have never heard of Raspberry Pi or even Sonic Pi for that matter, don’t worry, you are not alone. In essence, Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized single board computer. It was developed in our very own UK (hoorah for us!) and is an affordable, innovative way for schools and young people to engage in computer science. You can write code, create programmes and even play Minecraft using one of these little Pi’s. Amazing! The thing that is truly brilliant though, is that this technology has been developed further and from this Sonic Pi evolved.

Sonic Pi has nothing to do with the hedgehog and everything to do with sound waves. Simply put Sonic Pi allows you to create music using live coding. It was created by Dr. Sam Aaron who….wait for it…..is actually from our very own Stoke-on-Trent! (Again another hoorah for us!)

With regards to computers, smartphones, apps, software, code controls it all. But this is code that has already been pre-written.  The difference with Sonic Pi, is that not only does it create sounds that can be composed into music, you create all of the code live, in that moment. There are options to use pre-produced samples, but these can then be used to accompany live coded music, just in the same way musicians sample songs to make new ones. Sonic Pi also includes countless synthesisers and FXs that can be used to make your creation even more interesting. Ameatur music production this is not, given time to master the various options available, anyone, even you, could become a Sonic Pi DJ extraordinaire.

Here at Wavemaker, we decided to run an Introduction to Sonic Pi session with some of the lovely young people at Unity School, who come to us every week to explore new technology. After talking through the basics using the fantastic resources available online, and having downloaded Sonic Pi to each laptop prior to the session (which is free and extremely easy to do) the guys were ready to go.

At the beginning of the session they had no idea what coding was or Sonic Pi for that matter, and after two hours of running through the very basics, they were experimenting with different sounds, producing short pieces of music and most importantly having fun, whilst learning a process that is behind every website, social media platform and smartphone application in the world.

Sonic Pi is definitely at the forefront of music technology, so much so, that it is leaving earth to explore the final frontier, actual space. The International Space Station to be exact, with our very own Tim Peake. Currently, schools all around the country are competing, to create a piece of Sonic Pi music, that will then be sent to space and played on the Astro Pi, a modified version of the Raspberry Pi and they only have until the 31st March to do so!

Although the music created by Unity won’t be going into space just yet, the morning was a still a brilliant success and we can’t wait to help improve the Sonic Pi skills of others (and ourselves) at our next Sonic Pi session. Ultimately, the Sonic Pi experience is just great fun and a million miles away from the computer science of old. If this is what the future holds for technology, we love it! Rave, House, Grime, Soul, Rock on!