Christmas Tech Workshops 2015

panorama of everyone in hack workshop evening

We ran three technology workshops for kids of various ages from around Bath and Bristol on the 19th December. It was put on as kind of a final farewell event from me, as I will be moving to London after Christmas!


Junior Workshop

The morning session was for juniors aged 8 to 11. We have kindly been lent 6 iPads from the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution to encourage kids into technology, so we had to run two activities concurrently so everyone could use the iPads fairly! John was leading the iPad group, helping students to create flashing christmas trees in Scratch using broadcasters and changing colours of sprites.

I was in charge of running the makers activity helping students build christmas cards with a rainbow LED inside, which involved a lot of cutting and sticking!

Collection of the LED Christmas Cards the juniors made

We also had some littleBits to play with — here Nancy and Emily have made a circuit that lights up when you make a lot of noise (clap!).


Secondary Workshop

Next, we had an activity for secondary age students. Some of the girls I taught complained that people don’t run Christmassy workshops for older kids! So I decided we’d run our own!

Instead of using Scratch, we demonstrated how to code emojis using SVG (similar to HTML).

Students really enjoyed building their own snowmen and Father Christmas’s, and for all of them it was their first proper experience in programming!


Hack Workshop

Finally, we ran a proper hack day style workshop for any school kid that had some programming before! I really like the hack days I go to, often in London, and really wanted to show that to the kids I’ve been teaching over the past year.

We had a fantastic turnout of kids from lots of the different schools around Bath! I accidentally forgot to invite the boys school, so ended up in an odd scenario where the boys were the minority. Nobody else seemed to bring this up though, and we had a friendly environment for everyone.

We started off by asking students to make their own Christmas emojis — as some students weren’t that comfortable with programming or hadn’t programmed before. These were some of what they made:

Two even got so far as animating their emojis with JavaScript. Josh made an elf that turned evil, and Aisha made a reindeer whose nose changed colour.

Josh’s elf = http://jsfiddle.net/J1gh0n66/16/ & Aisha’s reindeer = http://jsfiddle.net/u3dqfw8k/10/

Even our youngest programmers, Gracie and Florence aged 10, made their own snowman emojis using SVG. This was their second snowman as we accidentally didn’t save the first one (the first had a snazzy purple hat!).

Florence and Gracie’s snowman = http://jsfiddle.net/k4msqrxc/2/

It wouldn’t have been a proper hack night without the pizza in the evening, everyone seemed happy with that!

Finally, the parents came back to see what their kids had made. I really like that children get to make things that their parents can see and kinda (even if not from a technical perspective) understand what they’ve made!


All in all, it was all very successful! We’ve learned how to run these sorts of events better in future, and hopefully everyone that attended learned something useful too!

More photos for those interested are up at https://www.flickr.com/gp/129552569@N07/105xdj

Massive thanks to Neil C Ford (https://twitter.com/neilcford), John Reeves (Teach Programming & https://twitter.com/programming_uk), and all the other parents who helped make the hack day successful! Also thank you to Coworking Bath (https://twitter.com/coworkingbath) for allowing us to use their space!