Tag Archives: Community

A tale of three Raspberry Jams

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In today’s post, I’m going to share the tales of three Jams: how and why they got started.

Norwich Raspberry Jam

Norwich is a place where I’ve always hoped there would be a Jam. It’s a tech city in the East of England and there’s plenty going on there, but so far no one has been running a Jam. I met Archie Roques at the Jam I run at Pi Towers, and was thrilled to discover that he was planning to set one up with Claire Riseborough.

I wanted to start the Norwich Jam for a few reasons. Firstly because I really love visiting other Jams (CamJam and Pi Towers Jam) and wanted something closer to home. Also because there’s a great tech community in Norwich, so we want to use that to help encourage more young people into tech and digital making. As one of the founders of the Young Makers’ Tech Club, I’ve seen how much tech potential Norfolk’s young people have. It would be great to have a place where we can have more of them getting involved, and somewhere where those who are interested can learn more skills and show them off to others.

I had the idea brewing in my mind for a while. I visited a few Jams and Pi Parties, and started by helping out at the Pi Towers Jam to get a feel of what running a Jam involves. Then Sarah, who works in education at the Forum (a big public building in Norwich, which amongst other things houses the main library and does lots of tech stuff) got in touch, as she’d heard about the idea and wanted to have a Jam as part of their Norwich Gaming Festival. We got a few other people on board and it’s been all go from there!

Finding a venue can be tricky, but sometimes you find the  perfect place, with a vested interest in running a community interest event, especially if it’s for young people. And you never know, they might lend a hand with organising it, too.

The Forum has been really helpful in getting us a venue. They couldn’t host the Jam themselves as they’ve got other events on that week, but they booked us another venue, the fantastic OPEN Norwich.

The Forum has also helped with the organisation – they are overseeing the ticketing, and helping to promote the event (which is good, as they have 33,000 more Twitter followers than I do!). They also are helping with some of the less exciting stuff like insurance and safeguarding, and organising some events for schools and educators to go alongside the Jam, which is great. Claire Riseborough, who has founded a social enterprise with the aim of helping kids to reach their tech potential, has also been instrumental in getting people in the tech community on board and getting the word out. Lots of other people have helped in their fields of expertise, which is great!

I asked Archie how he planned the Jam’s activities, and how he decided what to put on.

We knew that we wanted to have some talks, stalls, vendors and workshops: when we’d been to events like the Pi Party, those were the bits we liked best. We did a quick social media call for volunteers and we’ve had a pretty good response (though there’s always room for one more!).  We’ve got a nice selection of talks and workshops, and we aim to have some more informal general activities for people who don’t want to do anything too formal. The most important thing for us is having as many awesome people there as possible, whether they are visitors or volunteers.

I’d really like to see the Jam continue, probably on a quarterly basis, as there are lots of other more frequent tech events in Norwich. The Norwich Science Festival is coming up in the Autumn, so it’s possible that a science-themed Jam will be on the cards for then!

The first Norwich Jam takes place on 27 May. Tickets are free from Eventbrite. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Raspberry Jam Berlin

James Mitchell is a Scotsman living in Berlin. I first met him when I gave a Raspberry Pi talk in a furniture showroom, and somehow that led him to start a local Jam.

After owning a Raspberry Pi for a few months I started to search for tips, tricks and tutorials online. I then started to notice Raspberry Jams being set up all over the UK. We didn’t have these events in Berlin, so I decided to start a Jam of my own. Thankfully I had loads of support from Jam leaders and even got the chance to meet Ben Nuttall when he visited Berlin shortly before he joined the Foundation. He was a great inspiration!

After getting started with the Jam, lots of things started to fall into place. I started to build a lot more projects, mainly using the Camera Module. I have a little obsession with photography, and I am particularly fond of time-lapse. My kids also started to get involved with the Raspberry Pi. They are still a little young yet but I love that they stay enthusiastic.

James felt that he was missing out on the Raspberry Pi community vibe.

It really was the lack of events in and around Berlin that got the Jam going. I wanted to attend one of the UK Jams, as it seemed full of like-minded people willing to help each other and learn new things – something we sorely lacked here.

I did later manage to attend the Raspberry Pi Birthday Party in Cambridge. While the event was considerably larger than most Jams I had heard about, it was totally amazing to meet the community. It reinforced the sense of belonging I had been looking for.

I held the first Raspberry Jam Berlin in a co-working office that offers their space at weekends for free if you don’t charge for tickets. I had some Pis set up with various add-on boards and we also gave a few talks about the Raspberry Pi.

My favourite thing about the Raspberry Jam is meeting different people and seeing those projects that are getting pushed beyond my own understanding, but also being able to help new people get interested in the Raspberry Pi. It’s very satisfying to know someone has left the Jam inspired!

I asked James what advice he would have for someone setting up a Jam in their area.

Start small, and have a clear outline of what you want from your Jam. Invite a few friends and maybe the local school’s computing teacher. Find your like-minded corner of the community, and with their help expand if you want.

Don’t be intimidated by the size of other Jams. They come in all shapes and sizes and some can be really large. Just keep in mind you are in it to have fun!

You never know how many people will show up to a Jam. Will it be too many, or too few? Here’s James’ take on the dilemma:

It can get a little stressful when you have low numbers, but the key is to ignore the numbers and just enjoy the moment. If one person shows up and they walk away inspired, it’s a job well done.

Wimbledon Raspberry Jam

Cat Lamin went to Picademy in July 2014. She got really excited about the teaching possibilities of the Raspberry Pi, but didn’t know where to start, so she reached out to the community to create local networks for teachers to share their skills. She started a Coding Evening in Twickenham, and helped organise the Wimbledon Raspberry Jam.

Albert Hickey, who organises the Egham Jam, approached me to see if I was interested in helping him run the Jam in Wimbledon. He had been offered a venue and wanted me to be involved from the start. Wimbledon is close to the school I taught in and I knew this would be an excellent opportunity to give some of the children from school the chance to help develop their passions. What I really enjoyed about the Jam was seeing all of the families there. Several parents asked if we could let their children’s schools know about the next one because they were keen to bring more families down!

I was really lucky with Wimbledon Jam, as loads of helpful people were really keen to offer up their time as volunteers. If I’m honest, I took over a little bit, but Albert seemed quite happy to let me handle the actual event while he dealt with the venue. By the end of it, I felt that we had been the perfect team. While Albert negotiated the space, I took on the role of organising the timetable of events. I had to figure out timings for workshops and who was available to run them. We were really lucky that so many people offered their help almost straight away, and it was great having Ben along as a representative from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It added a sort of official stamp of approval to the day.

I really like having workshops, talks and show-and-tells going on, and we were really lucky that loads of people were interested in doing everything. One of my highlights from the day was watching the Mums creep over to Whack-a-Pi and sneak a go while their children were taking part in workshops – it was very funny!

Cat and Albert have run three Jams at Wimbledon library now. It’s great to see it continue on from the initial event I attended.

Why do people run Jams?

People run Jams for many reasons. I started the Manchester Jam so that I would have a group of people to learn about Raspberry Pi with, and it ended up benefiting hundreds of other people. While organising an event can be a lot of work, it is good fun. It all seems worth it in the end when you see how you can positively affect people you’d never otherwise have met. Here are some more insights from other Jam makers:

Read more in this excerpt from the Guidebook.

If you want to run a Jam, wherever you are, just remember that all these people were once where you are now. If they can do it, you can do it. Find some helpers, share ideas, make arrangements for your first event, and have fun. Be sure to check out the Raspberry Jam Guidebook for tips from other Jam makers, and lots of practical information on organising an event.

There are plenty of Jams coming up in the next month, including Oklahoma, Bogotá, Virginia and Melbourne, as well as lots in the UK, from Egham to Blackpool, Huddersfield to Belfast. Check out the Jam calendar for more.

I’ll be back next month with another Jam round-up, so if you have a Jam story to share, please get in touch! Email ben@raspberrypi.org. I really want to hear about all your experiences.

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Raspberry Jam round-up: April

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In case you missed it: in yesterday’s post, we released our Raspberry Jam Guidebook, a new Jam branding pack and some more resources to help people set up their own Raspberry Pi community events. Today I’m sharing some insights from Jams I’ve attended recently.

Raspberry Jam round-up April 2017

Preston Raspberry Jam

The Preston Jam is one of the most long-established Jams, and it recently ran its 58th event. It has achieved this by running like clockwork: on the first Monday evening of every month, without fail, the Jam takes place. A few months ago I decided to drop in to surprise the organiser, Alan O’Donohoe. The Jam is held at the Media Innovation Studio at the University of Central Lancashire. The format is quite informal, and it’s very welcoming to newcomers. The first half of the event allows people to mingle, and beginners can get support from more seasoned makers. I noticed a number of parents who’d brought their children along to find out more about the Pi and what can be done with it. It’s a great way to find out for real what people use their Pis for, and to get pointers on how to set up and where to start.

About half way through the evening, the organisers gather everyone round to watch a few short presentations. At the Jam I attended, most of these talks were from children, which was fantastic to see: Josh gave a demo in which he connected his Raspberry Pi to an Amazon Echo using the Alexa API, Cerys talked about her Jam in Staffordshire, and Elise told everyone about the workshops she ran at MozFest. All their talks were really well presented. The Preston Jam has done very well to keep going for so long and so consistently, and to provide such great opportunities and support for young people like Josh, Cerys and Elise to develop their digital making abilities (and presentation skills). Their next event is on Monday 1 May.

Manchester Raspberry Jam and CoderDojo

I set up the Manchester Jam back in 2012, around the same time that the Preston one started. Back then, you could only buy one Pi at a time, and only a handful of people in the area owned one. We ran a fairly small event at the local tech community space, MadLab, adopting the format of similar events I’d been to, which was very hands-on and project-based – people brought along their Pis and worked on their own builds. I ran the Jam for a year before moving to Cambridge to work for the Foundation, and I asked one of the regular attendees, Jack, if he’d run it in future. I hadn’t been back until last month, when Clare and I decided to visit.

The Jam is now held at The Shed, a digital innovation space at Manchester Metropolitan University, thanks to Darren Dancey, a computer science lecturer who claims he taught me everything I know (this claim is yet to be peer-reviewed). Jack, Darren, and Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder and Trustee Pete Lomas put on an excellent event. They have a room for workshops, and a space for people to work on their own projects. It was wonderful to see some of the attendees from the early days still going along every month, as well as lots of new faces. Some of Darren’s students ran a Minecraft Pi workshop for beginners, and I ran one using traffic lights with GPIO Zero and guizero.

The next day, we went along to Manchester CoderDojo, a monthly event for young people learning to code and make things. The Dojo is held at The Sharp Project, and thanks to the broad range of skills of the volunteers, they provide a range of different activities: Raspberry Pi, Minecraft, LittleBits, Code Club Scratch projects, video editing, game making and lots more.

Raspberry Jam round-up April 2017

Manchester CoderDojo’s next event is on Sunday 14 May. Be sure to keep an eye on mcrraspjam.org.uk for the next Jam date!

CamJam and Pi Wars

The Cambridge Raspberry Jam is a big event that runs two or three times a year, with quite a different format to the smaller monthly Jams. They have a lecture theatre for talks, a space for workshops, lots of show-and-tell, and even a collection of retailers selling Pis and accessories. It’s a very social event, and always great fun to attend.

The organisers, Mike and Tim, who wrote the foreword for the Guidebook, also run Pi Wars: the annual Raspberry Pi robotics competition. Clare and I went along to this year’s event, where we got to see teams from all over the country (and even one from New Mexico, brought by one of our Certified Educators from Picademy USA, Kerry Bruce) take part in a whole host of robotic challenges. A few of the teams I spoke to have been working on their robots at their local Jams throughout the year. If you’re interested in taking part next year, you can get a team together now and start to make a plan for your 2018 robot! Keep an eye on camjam.me and piwars.org for announcements.

PiBorg on Twitter

Ely Cathedral has surprisingly good straight line speed for a cathedral. Great job Ely Makers! #PiWars

Raspberry Jam @ Pi Towers

As well as working on supporting other Jams, I’ve also been running my own for the last few months. Held at our own offices in Cambridge, Raspberry Jam @ Pi Towers is a monthly event for people of all ages. We run workshops, show-and-tell and other practical activities. If you’re in the area, our next event is on Saturday 13 May.

Ben Nuttall on Twitter

rjam @ Pi Towers

Raspberry Jamboree

In 2013 and 2014, Alan O’Donohoe organised the Raspberry Jamboree, which took place in Manchester to mark the first and second Raspberry Pi birthdays – and it’s coming back next month, this time organised by Claire Dodd Wicher and Les Pounder. It’s primarily an unconference, so the talks are given by the attendees and arranged on the day, which is a great way to allow anyone to participate. There will also be workshops and practical sessions, so don’t miss out! Unless, like me, you’re going to the new Norwich Jam instead…

Start a Jam near you

If there’s no Jam where you live, you can start your own! Download a copy of the brand new Raspberry Jam Guidebook for tips on how to get started. It’s not as hard as you’d think! And we’re on hand if you need any help.

Raspberry Jam round-up April 2017

Visiting Jams and hearing from Jam organisers are great ways for us to find out how we can best support our wonderful community. If you run a Jam and you’d like to tell us about what you do, or share your success stories, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email me at ben@raspberrypi.org, and we’ll try to feature your stories on the blog in future.

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Supporting and growing the Raspberry Jam community

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For almost five years, Raspberry Jams have created opportunities to welcome new people to the Raspberry Pi community, as well as providing a support network for people of all ages in digital making. All around the world, like-minded people meet up to discuss and share their latest projects, give workshops, and chat about all things Pi. Today, we are making it easier than ever to set up your own Raspberry Jam, thanks to a new Jam Guidebook, branding pack, and starter kit.

Raspberry Jam logo over world map

We think Jams provide lots of great learning opportunities and we’d like to see one in every community. We’re aware of Jams in 43 countries: most recently, we’ve seen new Jams start in Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Honduras! The community team has been working on a plan to support and grow the amazing community of Jam makers around the world. Now it’s time to share the fantastic resources we have produced with you.

The Raspberry Jam Guidebook

One of the things we’ve been working on is a comprehensive Raspberry Jam Guidebook to help people set up their Jam. It’s packed full of advice gathered from the Raspberry Pi community, showing the many different types of Jam and how you can organise your own. It covers everything from promoting and structuring your Jam to managing finances: we’re sure you’ll find it useful. Download it now!

Image of Raspberry Jam Guidebook

Branding pack

One of the things many Jam organisers told us they needed was a set of assets to help with advertising. With that in mind, we’ve created a new branding pack for Jam organisers to use in their promotional materials. There’s a new Raspberry Jam logo, a set of poster templates, a set of graphical assets, and more. Download it now!

Starter kits

Finally, we’ve put together a Raspberry Jam starter kit containing stickers, flyers, printed worksheets, and lots more goodies to help people run their first Jam. Once you’ve submitted your first event to our Jam map, you can apply for your starter kit. Existing Jams won’t miss out either: they can apply for a kit when they submit their next event.

Image of Raspberry Jam starter kit contents

Find a Jam near you!

Take a look at the Jam map and see if there’s an event coming up near you. If you have kids, Jams can be a brilliant way to get them started with coding and making.

Can’t find a local Jam? Start one!

If you can’t find a Jam near you, you can start your own. You don’t have to organise it by yourself. Try to find some other people who would also like a Jam to go to, and get together with them. Work out where you could host your Jam and what form you’d like it to take. It’s OK to start small: just get some people together and see what happens. It’s worth looking at the Jam map to see if any Jams have happened nearby: just check the ‘Past Events’ box.

We have a Raspberry Jam Slack team where you can get help from other Jam organisers. Feel free to get in touch if you would like to join: just email jam@raspberrypi.org and we’ll get back to you. You can also contact us if you need further support in general, or if you have feedback on the resources.

Thanks

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the guidebook and provided insights in the Jam survey. Thanks, too, to all Jam makers and volunteers around the world who do great work providing opportunities for people everywhere!

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Video: Five Years of Pi

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Matthew “Raspberry Pi Guy” Timmons-Brown puts together a video of what the Raspberry Pi community has achieved every year. He’s just published 2017’s update, and it’s a doozy: have a look, and see how many of these projects and people you recognise!

What is Raspberry Pi? – Five years of Pi!

Half a decade. 12 million Raspberry Pis. On the 28th February 2017, Raspberry Pi will be five years old. As with previous years, I thought that I would make a video to commemorate this historic landmark and to show everyone just what Raspberry Pi is about.

We’re going to be celebrating the community that comes up with this amazing stuff all this weekend at our fifth Big Birthday Weekend, here in Cambridge. Tickets (£5 for over-16s, free for people under 16) are sold out for Saturday, but there are still some left for Sunday: grab them while they’re hot! You’ll see some of the projects featured in this video, discover some completely new ones, have the chance to attend drop-in sessions on digital making, robotics and more, meet with hundreds of like-minded Pi fans, and hang out with the team that makes your Raspberry Pi.

There will also be cake. See you there!

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2017: inspiring young makers and supporting educators

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By any measure, the Raspberry Pi Foundation had a fantastic 2016. We ended the year with over 11 million Raspberry Pi computers sold, millions of people using our learning resources, almost 1,000 Certified Educators in the UK and US, 75,000 children regularly attending over 5,000 Code Clubs in the UK, hundreds of Raspberry Jams taking place all over the world, code written by schoolkids running in space (yes, space), and much, much more.

Tim Peake on Twitter

Fantastic to see 5,000 active Code Clubs in the UK, helping over 75,000 young people learn to code. https://t.co/OyShrUzAhI @Raspberry_Pi https://t.co/luFj1qgzvQ

As I’ve said before, what we achieve is only possible thanks to the amazing community of makers, educators, volunteers, and young people all over the world who share our mission and support our work. You’re all awesome: thank you.

So here we are, just over a week into the New Year, and I thought it might be a good time to share with you some of what we’ve got planned for 2017.

Young digital makers

At the core of our mission is getting more young people excited about computing, and learning how to make things with computers. That was the original inspiration for the Raspberry Pi computer and it remains our number-one objective.

One of the ways we do that is through Code Club, a network of after-school clubs for 9- 11-year-olds run by teachers and volunteers. It’s already one of the largest networks of after-school clubs in the world, and this year we’ll be working with our existing partners in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Ukraine, as well as finding more partners in more countries, to bring Code Club to many more children.

Code Club

This year also sees the launch of Pioneers, our new programme for teen digital makers. It’s built around a series of challenges that will inspire young people to make things with technology and share their makes with the world. Check out the first challenge here, and keep watching the hashtag #MakeYourIdeas across your favourite social media platforms.

This is Pioneers #MakeYourIdeas

UPDATE – The first challenge is now LIVE. Head here for more information https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUzza7LJog Woohoo! Get together, get inspired, and get thinking. We’re looking for Pioneers to use technology to make something awesome. Get together in a team or on your own, post online to show us how you’re getting on, and then show the world your build when you’re done.

We’re also expanding our space programme Astro Pi, with 250 teams across Europe currently developing code that will be run on the ISS by ESA French Astronaut Thomas Pesquet. And, building on our Weather Station project, we’re excited to be developing new ideas for citizen science programmes that get more young people involved in computing.

European Astro Pi Challenge – Code your experiment

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake is safely back on Earth now, but French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is onboard the ISS, keen to see what students from all over Europe can do with the Astro Pi units too.

Supporting educators

Another big part of our work is supporting educators who are bringing computing and digital making into the classroom, and this year we’re going to be doing even more to help them.

Certified Educators

We’ll continue to grow our community of official Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, with Picademy training programmes in the UK and US. Watch out for those dates coming soon. We’re also opening up our educator training to a much wider audience through a series of online courses in partnership with FutureLearn. The first two courses are open for registration now, and we’ve got plans to develop and run more courses throughout the year, so if you’re an educator, let us know what you would find most useful.

We’re also really excited to be launching a brand-new free resource for educators later this month in partnership with CAS, the grass-roots network of computing educators. For now, it’s top-secret, but if you’re in the Bett Arena on 25 January, you’ll be the first to hear all about it.

Free educational resources

One of the most important things we do at Pi Towers is create the free educational resources that are used in Code Clubs, STEM clubs, CoderDojos, classrooms, libraries, makerspaces, and bedrooms by people of all ages learning about computing and digital making. We love making these resources and we know that you love using them. This year, we want to make them even more useful.

resources

As a first step, later this month we will share our digital making curriculum, which explains how we think about learning and progression, and which provides the structure for our educational resources and programmes. We’re publishing it so that we can get feedback to make it better, but we also hope that it will be used by other organisations creating educational resources.

We’re also working hard behind the scenes to improve the content and presentation of our learning resources. We want to include more diverse content like videos, make it easier for users to track their own progress, and generally make the experience more interactive and social. We’re looking forward to sharing that work and getting your feedback over the next few months.

Community

Last, but by no means least, we will continue to support and grow the community around our mission. We’ll be doing even more outreach, with ever more diverse groups, and doing much more to support the Raspberry Jam organisers and others who do so much to involve people in the digital making movement.

Birthday Bash

The other big community news is that we will be formally establishing ourselves as a charity in the US, which will provide the foundation (see what I did there?) for a serious expansion of our charitable activities and community in North America.


As you can see, we’ve got big plans for the year. Let me know what you think in the comments below and, if you’re excited about the mission, there’s lots of ways to get involved.

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Build a remote control robot with The MagPi 51

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Hi, Rob from The MagPi here! Issue 51 is out and just in case you weren’t sold on it already, here’s a little something to tempt you.

issue51-issue-cover

Brian Corteil, writer of the feature, has christened this robot ‘Tiny’

Over the past few years, Raspberry Pi robotics has really come into its own, taking strides to make building robots just that little bit more fun and accessible. This month in The MagPi, we’ve decided to take all these advances and use them to create an incredible little robot.

We’ll guide you through the process of making your robot while also giving you top advice on other methods for robot construction, in case you feel the spark of inspiration once the build is over. It’s not just robots we’re building this issue though. We have some amazing tutorials on the following:

  • Building an underwater camera
  • Finishing up our RaspCade arcade cabinet build
  • A guide to NOOBS for beginners
  • Using WiFi signals as a people detector

There’s lots more to enjoy, including reviews, columns, and a series of spooky and simple Halloween projects.

You can get hold of the latest issue in stores now from WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. Alternatively you can grab an issue online or get it digitally via our app on Android and iOS. There’s even a free PDF of it as well! You’re spoilt for choice…

Get a free Pi Zero
Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and get a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero, together with a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.

Free Pi Zeros and posters: what’s not to love about a MagPi subscription?

Free Creative Commons download
As always, you can download your copy of The MagPi completely free. Grab it straight from the issue page for The MagPi 51.

Don’t forget, though, that like sales of the Raspberry Pi itself, all proceeds from the print and digital editions of the magazine go to help the Foundation achieve its charitable goals. Help us democratise computing!

We hope you enjoy the issue!

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