Subscriptions are live!

We cover so much at our workshops, electronics, engineering, coding even painting; many of our students wanted to come several times to build on what they learned the first time.

That's why we're excited to introduce subscription pricing on our monthly robotics workshops.

When you subscribe to two workshops the second is only £90. Buy up to four and each additional workshop is £80 Here's how it breaks down:

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When you buy a subscription you secure 2, 3 or 4 places at our workshops and simply choose which dates you want to come to.

Follow the link above for more details and to book.

See you at our next workshop!

James & Frank & Amy

Light Painting round 1

Now that my last student is safely through their exams I thought I'd have another look at something we've played with at our workshops before, light painting.

Light painting is long exposure photography.  You let the camera collect light for several seconds and it blurs the scene into new and, hopefully, interesting shapes.

I built a stand to hold my DSLR and programmed a robot to drive in a circle on a black background. 

set up.jpg

The robot has 8 LEDs at the front so with a little crumble code they can be turned on, flashed, cycled through etc.

This code

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gives....

 Taken with an iPhone

Taken with an iPhone

After upgrading the stand to hold the DSLR I started getting some fun results

 Very similar to the code above.

Very similar to the code above.

We'll be posting more of these and sample code for you to try at home so stay tuned! And follow us on Instagram! Link below.

Don't worry, with an awesome slow shutter app you don't need to build yourself a big frame like I did, just some steady hands can produce great results!

  1. Make the room as dark as possible
  2. Rest the phone on a stable surface
  3. Put blu-tac on any of the robot's always-on leds that you want to hide!
  4. Links for kit are below...

Send us your results at:

https://www.facebook.com/inspiredmindstutors/

https://www.instagram.com/inspiredmindsworkshops/

 

 

Links

Slow shutter app

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/slow-shutter-cam/id357404131?mt=8

The Crumblebot

https://4tronix.co.uk/store/index.php?rt=product/product&product_id=617

 

Find us at STEM:Sorted

On May 20th we'll be at the Science Museum in London for the STEM:Sorted event.

This day promises to be really fun, the big idea is that unlike regular child focussed educational fairs, companies don't just stand around handing out flyers, instead the kids get to actually do the activities! We're planning on running a series of 30 minute activities for children throughout the day.

Tickets are almost gone so head over here to book.

https://www.kidsorted.com/seller/partner/2988/kidsorted-stemsorted-2018/

The inspired Minds team will be at stand 10 at the end of the hall.

Hope to see you there!

Fun with a 1981 BBC Microcomputer

repair.jpg

This is a BBC microcomputer from 1981. It belonged to my aunt but when she threatened to throw it away I panicked and offered to re home it. 

I got it home, plugged it in, turned it on. It exploded. 

Fortunately it turns out this is a common problem with a cheap solution, replace 3 capacitors from the power supply and you’re good to go!

Next step: relearn BASIC.

Sphero Painting

Head on over to our YouTube channel to see our latest activity: Sphero Painting!

https://youtu.be/sroZqLzLiBU

The Sphero was one of our picks for robotics toys this Christmas and we've had a lot of fun putting it through its paces. [Amazon Link]

This was really fun, and a little messy. If you're keen to have a go at home we'd suggest

  1. Put your paper in the bottom of a cardboard box. Protect those carpets!
  2. Use acrylic paint, it's water-based.
  3. Don't use too much paint, it will all mix into a muddy mess.
  4. Make 3 paintings at least, they look great on the wall next to each other.
  5. Watch the video for a neat clean-up tip.

Finally a big well done to everyone who came to our workshop on Saturday, the robot painting project was great fun and you got some wonderful results.

 

Robotics Toys

This article at The Wire Cutter made me think about some of our favourite robotics kit.

Running our workshops we come across some outstanding science and tech related toys. I'd like to tell you about a few of them. 'Tis the season after all!

1 Your first Robot - The CrumbleBot

Buy the Crumblebot here and make sure your order the controller chip which is sold separately.

New to coding? We use the CrumbleBot from 4Tronix at our workshops and they're a great piece of kit. Snappy to program using a visual, block-based language similar to Scratch the Crumblebot is equipped with plenty of sensors allowing it to follow lines on the floor, seek dark places and light up!

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Assembly will require some adult supervision and a screwdriver but help is at hand: see our how-to video on our YouTube channel.

2 The Upgrade Pick - Sphero

Buy the Sphero at Amazon

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Pricier, cuter and programmable with a tablet. The Sphero is an exceptionally swish offering; no assembly and a wireless charging station make this a very elegant and impossibly fun robot. If you're not in the mood for coding you can put the tablet app in drive mode and simply use it as a remote controlled toy.

 

3 For more Advanced users - mBot

Buy the mBot at Amazon

 

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This is a bigger, more sturdy kit which runs wonderfully out of the box. The mBot comes pre-programmed with 3 modes: line following, remote control, or obstacle avoidance to give you an idea of its abilities. The mBot is controlled with an Arduino controller and to begin with a tablet-based app is the easiest way to get started with coding. For more advanced work block-based or text-based coding is possible but requires a laptop and USB cable.

Assembly is quick and easy and the tablet app make the beginning stages of coding easy. The jump to the desktop mBlock app introduces a slope to the learning curve but opens up seriously rich possibilities for somebody serious about programming. C is the language of choice for the Arduino platform.

We use the mBot for painting with robots, its such a sturdy robot it can hold a paintbrush no problem!

4 Electronics kit - Snap Circuits

Buy Snap Circuits at Amazon

These are a wonderfully neat way to learn about electronics. These components clip together using the poppers normally found on jackets, no fiddly wires.

The instructions are good too. Clear enough that children around 9 and above can be expected to follow them themselves. Without instructions this kit is still extremely fun to play about with which we think a key test for educational toys.

Painting with Robots cont.

We promised you videos of robots painting, here they are!

This has been a huge amount of fun. We constantly add new content to our workshops too, so we'll be doing painting with robots for the first time at our workshop on November 25th. There are a few places still available. Here's a link to book a place.

robot painting 1

robot painting 2

robot painting 3

Hope to see you there!

James

Painting with robots

We've been exercising our creative muscles over the weekend!

Creating art with robots can bring bizarre results. The unpredictability it brings can be really fun.

To control the messiness the robot is programmed not to go outside the black tape boundary which holds the paper down. Next paint is blobbed onto the paper and the robot buzzes over the canvas for about a minute. It's up to you to remove it once you're happy with the results!

There's a lot to play with, different types of brushes would be fun. Or perhaps a container for paint attached to the robot which drips paint!

We'll be adding a video to our YouTube channel on this soon, so stay tuned!

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Night at the Museum

Last week I visited the Natural History Museum for their annual Science Uncovered event. If you haven't been or haven't heard about it then jot this down, it's really worth it.

You spend the evening attending talks, interviews and demonstrations by researchers.  A lot of people don't know that NHM is a working research centre, behind the scenes their collection of preserved plants and animals is estimated to hold 80 million specimens. Estimated? Yep, no one knows for sure.

The highlight of the evening for me was the Stars in Jars tour. You're shown around some of the specimen rooms by a very bubbly and enthusiastic guide. Thanks Katie!

Two things stood out, one gross, the other exciting. First the gross one, a giant squid preserved in formaldehyde (pictured), not a good looking (nor good smelling, apparently,) fellow but quite a thing to behold. 

The exciting one? A collection of specimens collected by Charles Darwin himself on the famous voyage of the Beagle. Darwin is reputed to have eaten some of the interesting species that he studied, fortunately the museum's specimens are reassuringly whole.

You don't have to wait until next year; the behind the scenes tour is available all the time. Highly recommended.