HackCampUK Community Day at Eureka Children's Museum

Reaching Young People

The final HackCampUK Engineer Engagement Event of the series was hosted by our friends at the Eureka Children's Museum in Halifax. On that single day in March, over 1,700 adults and children passed through the Discovery Zone where the engineers had planned a range of hands-on activities to show young people their own experiences of engineering in 2020.

With most children aged ten years and younger, this event was a brilliant opportunity to show the next generation of engineers and their families the diverse range of pathways and themes within engineering disciplines and to communicate those to a different audience.

Eureka 2

Introducing HackCampUK as an Ingenious programme

The original call out set to recruit talented engineers to help inspire children to become the innovators, inventors and problem solvers of the future. Thanks to funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Ingenious Project, the Foundation for Digital Creativity along with:

  1. Wigan STEAM
  2. Mako Create
  3. Edge Hill University

recruited engineers across the North of England to deliver pop-up events for children and families in Wigan, Halton, Leeds and Halifax.

Eureka 3

Feedback from engineers included:

"I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend the Royal Academy of Engineering event at the Eureka Children’s Museum on 7th March to share activities developed around transportation engineering with young children making paper aeroplanes, helicopters and rockets. It was a great chance to engage with various ages asking about how things work, how they could make a project before they had a go, tested projects and then made improvements. HackCamp gave me the opportunity to put engineering methods into practice with young people, something I will continue now with more children and adults."

Eureka 4

More feedback:

"The age of the participants at Eureka was much lower than previous engagements and that meant adapting the build of my planned project to make it quicker so it was within their attention span. Even quite young children, I guess the youngest was around 3-4 years, had a positive experience with all of them reaching the “Wow!” pretty lights LED moment through the digital make!"

"It was great to get the message across that engineers build fun things, and as parents and carers were also involved it was good for the children to see it is an ‘approved of’ activity."

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Building robots, pegging out algorithms, making rockets and digital kaleidoscopes.......

"Thank you so much for letting us join this amazing event. We've had a brilliant day and engaged with loads of talented children!"

Eureka 5

Are you working or studying in the STEM industries, keen to debunk some myths about engineering and inspire young people's dreams?

How can you make a difference?

HACKcampUK is an innovative and exciting programme designed to connect children to careers in engineering and to play a part in shaping change in a rapidly evolving world.

The project is being delivered as part of the This Is Engineering programme with The Royal Society of Engineering and is designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, inventors and problem solvers.

Sharing your story has the potential to inspire our next engineers, just like Sophie here:

Who can apply?

We're running this first training event on Saturday 18th January for university undergraduate or postgraduate students, professionals or recently retired people working in the STEM sectors.

You might be a software, agricultural, biomedical or environmental engineer, a computer scientist, a creative technologist, a mechanic, an aero engineer, engineer in theatre or fashion design.....absolutely anything that involves making and engineering.

What's the commitment?

You'll be joining a programme of support that will include an event at Eureka Museum in Halifax on Saturday 7th March, when your engineering experiences and activities will be shared with some of the young visitors and families on the day.

eureka museum halifax

You'll need to commit to attending both events at PlayLab (18.01.20) and Eureka Museum (07.03.20) and there'll be plenty of support available in between to help you develop your activities - visits, online chats, workshops and the network of other engineers across the North involved in the programme.

There's also a small bursary available to support each engineer with materials or resources needed to deliver their activity at the March event.

playlab in leeds

We've hooked up with the Trans-Pennine STEM Ambassador hub at The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and will be using their Action Zone space for a mentoring session with engineers on Wednesday 29th January, too. It'll be a chance to learn more about their network and get involved as a STEM Ambassador.

national science museum bradford

Dates for the Diary

Saturday 18th January: Launch event at PlayLabs in Leeds 12-4pm

Wednesday 29th January: Optional meetup at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford 4-6pm

Monday 24th February: Optional meetup at Barclays Eagle Labs in Leeds - 4 until 6pm

Saturday 7th March: Sharing activities at Eureka Museum in Halifax

Where can you sign up?

Registration is now open through this Eventbrite page

What's the plan?

This first session will be very hands-on and workshop activities will cover how you can run everything from a 5 minute assembly to an hour long workshop, practical sessions in schools or a Scout camp, a school careers day or assembly.

We'll include information about how you can enthuse young people by telling your story as an engineer, start to plan and co-design resources with us, look at how to plan an engaging session in libraries and schools and how to tackle safeguarding and diversity issues.

Who's involved?

The HackCampuK team sees The Foundation for Digital Creativity, Wigan STEAM, Edge Hill University and MakoCreate coming together again to equip engineers across the North of England to plan and deliver sustainable engineering workshops to young people. We're all very excited to be working with you!

Thanks to PlayLab Leeds for hosting this first workshop and Eureka Museum for inviting us to work with them at the final engagement event in March. Other organisations supporting the programme include the Trans-Pennine STEM Ambassador Network, Barclays Eagle Labs in Leeds, local libraries in each area across the North and academic links.

How can technology help us to understand and question the world around us?

Recent adult workshops and learning programmes in schools and universities have flagged up the capacity for data to spark more even questions, conversations and hypotheses.

Not always answers, as we've take the Internet of Curious Things activities across more areas of the curriculum and project themes including improving air quality into more communities, and that's given an opportunity to share findings across different regions.

Our mission is to deliver improved digital skills and inspiration to enable social good, and that inevitably links the UN Sustainable Development Goals to give context, purpose and a global perspective to activities.

un sustainable goals We get involved in discussions about empowering everyone to make the world a better place with technology, and have become great advocates of using low-cost sensors to underpin understanding of innovative possibilities. That raises questions in itself.

Putting tools (including those low-cost sensors) into the hands of more groups to understand the world around them has seen a rise of problem-finding, as described through Engineering Habits of Mind, in project-based learning programmes.

This year has seen some interesting research coming out of a project where low-cost sensors have been deployed across school sites in Southampton, and the continued discussion it has supported about a long-term field comparison of multiple low-cost particulate matter sensors in an outdoor urban environment. This quote in particular resonates with what we're trying to support:

"Low-cost sensors.........they may provide useful information on personal exposure to PM" (Bulot et al, 2019)

For the students at Manchester Met University who had their own theories about levels of pollution around campus, the groups embarking on the first Science Walk in Roundhay Park during Leeds Digital Festival or our latest project with adults funded by LNER, it is the knowledge, understanding and application of data collection that is empowering more people to make healthy decisions using physical computing.

Putting tools and decision making into the hands of communities.

Raising even more questions to investigate together.

Bramley Community Weather Stations and Air Quality Monitoring

This community-led project has now adopted the name ‘Bramley Weather Stations’ after first activities sparked ideas about how intergenerational groups can work together to improve air quality.

microbit temp and humidity monitoring

A series of imaginative and hands-on digital workshops launched with the first stations built and collecting data on the hottest day of the year!

The programme will continue over the coming months and explore the quality of air in Bramley and respond to concerns from local residents and groups.

More air quality monitoring projects will be built and deployed around the community with individuals, youth, adult and local Scout groups all learning new skills and gaining a deeper understanding about how they can address environmental concerns together.

map 1 bramley

Part of the programme will focus on sharing ideas and data to make better informed decisions, and that's an introduction to data science in an accessible and fun way for everyone.

You'll see these examples, from a mapping and data visualisation activity, showing routes taken with air quality sensor projects around Bramley Community Centre and a supplementary CSV file has all of the raw data.

What's brilliant about this example is the age of the digital makers as young cubs and scouts from the local group. They were able to interrogate their own data and tell their own story about changes in air quality as they walked away from the centre and towards the road. Moreover, they could consider and discuss the impact of action and choices made as a result of their findings with a group of adults.

bramley 2 map

The programme is multifaceted and a powerful insight into how equipping a community with the tools, knowledge and skills needed to make their own changes can impact on a wider scale.

We'll share updates, events and news throughout the summer and in the meantime the ‘Bramley Weather Stations’ group are collaborating with meet-ups, workshops and their own online collaboration space.

jaffa cake box casing for digital project

Some of the resources and inspiration from the first making day to create new stations and understand this climate emergency that's spoken about at school, around the community and across the city.

resources from bramley launch

national lottery community fund logo The Bramley Weather Station programme of activities and change is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

HACKcampUK: New project supported by The Royal Academy of Engineering


We're delighted to be collaborating with Edge Hill University, Wigan STEAM and Mako Create on a new Royal Academy of Engineering funded project giving children the opportunity to design the future and protect the planet with careers in engineering.

Schoolchildren across the North of England will soon be able to experience the future with a series of pop up events hosted by engineering professionals as part of a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Project.

HACKcampUK is an innovative and exciting project designed to connect children to careers in engineering and to play a part in shaping change in a rapidly evolving world. The project is being delivered as part of the This Is Engineering programme and is designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, inventors and problem solvers.

The events will include opportunities for children aged 10 – 14, and any interested adults working with children, to experience engineering during hand on workshops hosted by engineers working in environmental, computing, chemical, civil, structural and medical engineering.

For more details click here and get in touch about proposed activities by emailing us at info@digitalcreativity.foundation

Making sense of air quality in Roundhay Park: Workshop and science walk for families during #LeedsDigi19

The Digital Festival was a perfect opportunity to announce our moonshot of 350 air quality projects on a crowd sourced map during 2019, adding these new projects to earlier activities and nudging towards our target.

moonshot ambition of 350 air quality projects on a crowd sourced map in 2019

The workshop for families during Leeds Digital Festival was focused around teams exploring some of the science behind air quality and programming their own air quality monitoring device to test during a walk in Roundhay Park.

It was also a chance to hear about pollution in the world today through the eyes of 'Nicholas and his incredible eyesight' - a great book from Sotirios Papathanasiou.

family working around laptop

The aim of the event was a hands-on and active introduction to air quality and the internet of things for everyone, sharing current activities and monitoring programmes across the city region. The DEFRA map below showing 3 air quality monitoring stations in Leeds was of particular interest, raising questions and discussion about how more community readings can support individual decision making about healthier walks to school and work.

defra map showing 3 air quality monitoring stations in leeds

There's another difference as a programmer with our Internet of Curious Things workshops, and that's giving digital makers themselves a choice of algorithmic design.

Unlike the DEFRA monitoring stations that take a reading every hour, our families wanted to analyse more frequent measures of PM2.5 and PM10 in the air around them as they walked around the park. Final scripts included the trigger to collect and save data every 10 seconds.

2 girls coding air quality project around a laptop

The teams constructed and programmed an outdoor air quality monitoring device and put the sensors through their digital paces around the park. Once back at the Education Centre, data science became the focus as families analysed the data collected and started to think about what it means and how it can help to inform changes to improve health and wellbeing.

family 2 working around laptop

We explored the different measures of air quality, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxide, alongside digital tools such as GPS to make more sense and changes about the quality of air that we breathe.

sensor and iot device

Tech list:

  1. GPS sensor available from Farnell
  2. Sensors attached to a TRIOT board but you could use a Raspberry Pi
  3. ]GitHub account for the Foundation for Digital Creativity](https://github.com/foundation-for-digital-creativity/air_quality/blob/master/main.py) has the files used for air quality.
  4. Download Mu Editor

Community Data Science: Mapping air quality and making decisions based on health

The Making Sense of Air Quality workshop for families during Leeds Digital Festival included time to explore the data collected with a mapping activity to build a digital story.

outdoor sensor monitoring

Transferring air quality and GPS data, collected on a walk around Roundhay Park, to Open Street Map gave families an opportunity to explore their route and question changes in readings along the way.

child 2 looking at laptop screen showing mapping of air quality data

The GPS tracking is accurate enough to show movements around the playground close to Waterloo Lake and also to trigger conversations around the causes of spikes in particulate matter (PM 2.5 and 10). For some, it seemed like proximity of moving traffic might have been part of that data story, leading to further discussion about the benefits of images alongside future tracking and analysing of collected data.

child 3 looking at laptop screen showing mapping of air quality data

map 2 showing air quality data

We'll share the link to the online map that will be populated with ongoing citizen science projects, but in the meantime you'll be able to identify the route from these 2 images at different scale.

digital project at children's playground

The first algorithm draws a simple red, amber or green dot on the map depending on the data measured, according to DEFRA guidelines and health bandings.

map showing air quality data

Planned workshops in the programme will dig deeper into mapping and machine learning possibilities and give participants the chance to personalise visualisations and notifications.

Tech list:

  1. GPS sensor available from Farnell
  2. Sensors attached to a TRIOT board but you could use a Raspberry Pi
  3. GitHub account for the Foundation for Digital Creativity has the files used for air quality.
  4. Download Mu Editor

Everyone's an Innovator: Family IOT Hacks

The latest 'Internet of Curious Things' event saw us working with Leeds Libraries to offer families a chance to come along and build digital projects together.

Intergenerational teams gathered at Crossgates Library to explore engineering trade offs and invent fun and creative solutions relevant to them.

inspire an engineer and nicholas eyesight book

Creating projects with a real world relevance started with an environmental theme and ‘smart lantern’ weather stations.

intergenerational digital making projects

From that we focused on engineering new solutions to improve people’s lives and turned our thoughts to tackling air quality problems.

Superhero activities to make the world a better place from the Nicholas Eyesight book by Sotirios Papathanasiou are a great start to understanding the science behind such environmental issues.

boy holding sensor project

What's great about family events are the team challenges that evolve throughout each session. Often personal and building on previous knowledge or experiences, activities here centred around illuminating particular data streams in more complex lighting sequences.

Definitely a collaborative approach needed to code those dazzling light shows!

adults celebrate decreasing data readings with ice!

We always say that everyone can be an innovator, so tools from The Internet of Curious Things are there to inspire adults and children.

And that feeling when you push your project so far because you know what you want it to deliver?

And then you think it might be too ambitious?

And then you test, debug, test and see that it now runs perfectly?

That's possibly summed up by the adults celebrating their ice test above 👏

girl shows LED displaying temperature data from a raspberry pi iot project

The Art of Tinkering at #LeedsDigi18

We joined up with Leeds Libraries and ODI Leeds to offer this 'Art of Tinkering' drop-in-drop-out session during the Leeds Digital Festival.

The event was aimed at creative and curious adults with an interest in exploring digital projects and learning more about supportive networks in the city. A chance to try out a range of digital challenges, get hands-on with new technologies and consider more ideas to inspire a new project at home.

the art of tinkering sign with women in tech books in the background

Activities included getting started with Raspberry Pi, discovering the Wonders of Wearables, hands-on mischief with capacitive touch and solving real world problems by adding smart sensors and cameras. Each project also had an element of fun attached with a creative twist.

collage of paper flowers with LEDs added to visualise environmental data

Using creative means to visualise environmental data led us to tinkering opportunities with this 'digital peonies' project, a take from another activity focused on improving air quality.

capacitive project in the foreground

Always a pleasure to share the Bare Conductive story and inspire more projects through capacitive touch. We've got a Harry Potter feeling about a next collaboration in the city!

foundation roller banner with presentation showing women in tech quotes

So what's next for The Art of Tinkering in Leeds?

Well feedback from the event points towards a demand for a programme of digital making activities for adults. Watch this space : )

'Totally loved it - fab for a total beginner'

'Fantastic event'

Really interesting to try all the different equipment!

'I'd love some workshops with targeted stuff to make or build'

Community Events in Wigan & Leeds: Inspire an Engineer