How our 'Internet of Curious Things' project will inspire the engineers of tomorrow in your school

We’re so pleased to have been awarded funding from The Engineering Education Grant Scheme (EEGS), which provides support for UK-based educational projects that increase engineering knowledge in young people.

Our grant from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) will allow us to deliver our ‘Internet of Curious Things’ programme to schools in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire this Spring.

Alongside school workshops for 7-14 yr olds, we will also deliver intergenerational community learning events and hands-on teacher development sessions to extend, develop and excite audiences engaged through STEM innovations.

Young people will be empowered to invent with smart sensors and become changemakers in their own communities. Funding will facilitate the participation of over 300 children, teachers and family members in this series of innovative digital making workshops.

Interested to find out more as a teacher? Primary and secondary schools in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire can register an interest in becoming a host school here.

The Engineering Education Grant Scheme (EEGS), which is run by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, aims to engage young people aged 5-19 in learning about engineering and to develop the professional skills of those involved in supporting Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning and careers awareness. The EEGS also supports projects that improve wider engineering literacy.

institute of mechanical engineers logo

Peter Finegold, Head of Education and Skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The Internet of Curious Things is a fantastic example of the kind of projects the EEGS scheme aims to promote. The UK is facing a critical engineering skills shortage and showing young people how creative and exciting engineering can be is a key way of inspiring the engineers of tomorrow.”

David Lakin, Head of Education at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “In order to tackle the engineering skills gap we need more graduates and apprentices to enter the profession, and this can only happen if more school-age children – girls as well as boys – are attracted to, and choose to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects. The IET is investing considerable resource in EEGS to support vital projects like The Internet of Curious Things, which highlight the exciting, creative and rewarding world of engineering careers to young people.”

The Year of Engineering: Taking a Closer Look in 2018

The Year of Engineering is a chance for young people, their parents and teachers to take a closer look at engineering, with hundreds of partners offering opportunities to come face to face with engineering experiences and role models.

Throughout the year, the campaign will give young people a million direct and inspiring experiences of engineering, showcasing the meaningful, creative and innovative careers that the profession can offer.

We're excited to be supporting the campaign through our 'Internet of Curious Things' and 'Invent Things' programmes. Look out for more announcements as we launch activities with schools, libraries and more community events later in the month.

STEM Futures: Ambassadors as Role Models

Alongside extending learning programmes and professional development activities, we’ve also been working with the STEM Ambassador Hub Trans Pennine to develop more opportunities to inspire young people exploring STEM futures during 2018.

January will see the launch of The Year of Engineering and we've committed to including and promoting the support of STEM Ambassadors in each of our programmes.

That'll include activities across all of the STEM disciplines and introducing role models in our formal, informal and community learning settings.

We know that their contribution will positively impact on the perception of STEM careers for some young people and equip them for future roles in a digital and STEM world.

Making connections with our own lives and considering real world applications is at the heart of each of our digital making activities, so we're excited to be collaborating with Ambassadors to enrich STEM learning and inspire the next generation.

leading a community workshop using raspberry pi computers at makefest event in leeds april 2017 (Image taken by Maria Spadafora at Make Believe event in Leeds, April 2017)

Moreover, it’s also our time to commit to the STEM Ambassador programme and volunteer to share our own experiences and passions for STEM futures.

First induction starts in January, and we're hoping to add to the impact of over 30,000 current STEM Ambassadors soon after!

Headline image by Jerome Whittingham @photomoments

Positive Impact Partners Programme with Leeds University

We're delighted to have joined the PIP Programme with Leeds University this term, and are looking forward to further collaborations on specific areas of mutual interest.

Interested to find out more? Click on this link and here's a taster from the website in the meantime:

PIP has been developed in collaboration with third sector, community and not-for-profit organisations to deliver the following outcomes:

  • Develop opportunities for collaboration that lead to positive social change
  • Respond to the varied needs of the evolving Third Sector in a timely way
  • Link skills, knowledge and capacity, across different organisations, with local need
  • Support and build capacity in the region’s diverse and vibrant third sector
  • Create personal and professional opportunities for both UoL and Third Sector partners
  • Be an exemplar of good practice

More to follow as plans evolve in the new year!

Data Driven Festive Lights at Manchester Raspberry Jam

Our festive-themed workshop at Manchester Raspberry Jam on Saturday 9th December revolved around lantern making.

collaboration at manchester jam

The challenge was to build the project and design code to make a 'flickering candle' effect.

manchester jam workshop crowd

Fist steps were setting up the Raspberry Pi and Codebug to access the online software, and then making decisions about colour and style for the final showpiece.

For some community members, the opportunity to interact with environmental data proved an imaginative way to visualise live temperature and humidity readings, and as a catalyst for further conversations about data.

young child holding digital lantern project from manchester jam

More projects displayed below:

Interested to find out more about Manchester Raspberry Jam? Next event is Saturday 13th January.

Things Network Conference: Empowering communities to make a smarter, more connected world with LoRaWAN.

Removing the barriers: Empowering communities to make a smarter, more connected world with LoRaWAN.

things network conference flyer

We're thrilled to be invited to share how we've developed more diverse and inclusive programmes, engaging groups to creatively solve their own local issues, at The Things Network conference in February.

We'll be exploring the Foundation's approach with digital data storytelling projects across communities in the north of England.

internet of curious things

#ThisGirlCodes: Do robots dream of Bolsover Castle?

Our recent collaboration with Junction Arts had the fundamental aim to inspire a young generation of creative digital makers. Under the theme of connecting landscape and technology, this group of Y5 children engaged with digital experiences to connect, explore and imaginatively share the physical heritage around Bolsover, in Derbyshire.

Embracing Bolsover Castle as a learning environment, and with innovation as another strand, the children engaged with heritage to create digital lanterns. Storytelling activities were based on local Masque Balls of yester-.year.

Bolsover castle

Young makers built and illuminated their willow lanterns with Codebug and Colourstar, ready for their collaborative pieces greeting all visitors of the Bolsover Lantern Festival to the Castle on the evening of the parade.

Artist demoing how to make a willow lantern structure in front of class of school children

Introduction to lantern design and construction with willow and reeds.

child constructing willow lantern

First team building challenges accomplished.

2 children making willow lantern

Coding the sequence of lights to create a digital storytelling piece using local heritage as the focus.

3 children testing lights under paper in front of laptop

Time even to share and evidence progression of programming with other teachers at school, and lend a bit of student voice to support more computing activities across the curriculum.

train the teacher coding in front of laptop

Design Challenges:

Willow Lantern with Codebug

Next stage glue :)

finished lantern structure waiting for glue

More glue!

gluing a paper lantern

Final testing before castle installation:

Lit up lantern on classroom table with code tested

Powerbanks for external display

Bolsover Lantern Parade on Saturday 25th November 2017:

Removing barriers: Exploring meaningful data projects with The Internet of Curious Things

The Internet of Curious Things is our programme of inclusive and accessible projects that give everyone a chance to explore data and connect communities. With or without previous digital making or coding experiences. That's the important bit that we take to everything activity we plan.

Development of hardware and software allows the focus to be more on creative problem-solving and empowering people to be changemakers in their own communities.

block code to collect environmental data

Sensor nodes can be programmed in Python or via drag and drop blocks, so primary aged children who have used Scratch as a programming environment in school can immediately transfer skills. Also, by providing access to other people’s projects, new users can explore already working code and then adapt and remix the lines of code for their own applications.

Smart citizens of Leeds recently innovated with more 'Internet of Curious Things' projects as part of a collaboration with Leeds Libraries and The Ada Show.

workshop room at leeds library internet of curious things workshop

Participants brought along varying levels of coding experiences, with the whole group embracing the possibilities of The Things Network and the concept of the internet of things to build their own inventions.

adult coding to collect data

It was also a great opportunity to share the expansion of infrastructure and exciting possibilities with the Things North communities spanning the north of England, sparking new ideas and talking points.

adults checking out things network global map

More information about Things North on the link below:

Increasing participation of girls in STEM

When The Ada Show performed at Leeds Central Library on 14.11.17, 75 KS3 students from 5 of the city's schools were invited and inspired by the actions and innovations of Ada Lovelace in the nineteenth century.

The morning session gave an opportunity to lead an 'Internet of Curious Things' workshop with a group of students from the Co-op Academy in Leeds.

They took the connection of wearables and lights from Ada Lovelace's dress to consider twenty first century applications of a more connected world and the internet of things. Read about their experiences on the day below:

Blogpost from Coop academy in leeds about visit to Ada Show with student workshop

The group explore more about the first complex algorithms and got to grips with the engineering behind the Analytical Engine, through a practical activity using string and brain processing!

Ada Lovelace demonstrating Analytical Engine with audience and string

Inspiring Young Engineers alongside Ada Lovelace

Brilliant to be working with the team delivering The Ada Show Tour across libraries in the north of England, and supporting their engaging workshop programme.

Actor dressed as Ada Lovelace stood with 3 adults

We've collaborated on the planning of sessions such as 'Dynamic Circuits' and provided the technology to support wearable activities using Codebug.

Girl showing a Codebug wearable controller in front of her face

The Ada Tour visited Leeds Libraries on 13.11.17 and we were delighted to facilitate the workshops and inspire this new generation of computer scientists.

two books from a library coding collection, Ada Lovelace and intro to coding

During the 'Dynamic Circuits' activities, children from a local primary built paper circuits with electric paint and copper tape to create their own lightbulb moments to share with others at home.

4 pairs of hands creating paper circuits

Using circuitry as the building blocks to further projects, the group went on to explore the circuits built into Ada's dress as they watched the show and have further computing projects planned with the library team.

2 examples of leds lighting on a paper circuit

Intrigued by the performance? You'll find a video introduction here.

Actor performing as Ada Lovelace in front of a class of primary school children