Last week I had the pleasure of working with Alan O’Donohoe, hosting our first ever Family HackJam. The idea was to create a space where pupils, parents and a few teachers could work together using Micro:bits and anything else we could get our hands on! To share, learn and create in small teams using computer science. Armed with only a Micro:bits, desktops and as much cardboard and felt tips as I could find, we started by talking about ‘What is a Computer’.
At the beginning, the session was a bit slow going. A lot of the pupils didn’t know each other very well, if at all, and they were a bit nervous about using Micro:bits when their experience was very limited. However, it doesn’t stay like that very long when you have the infectious enthusiasm of Alan working in the room. As they slowly got to grips with the Micro:bits, and slowly started to see how easy it was to pick up and go, there confidence grew and more and more smiles started to show! Going through some of the easier projects with them step by step, and letting them make controlled mistakes, really helped with their confidence too. The parents also had a look of wonder on their face, as they saw how much learning their child could get from a £14 computer!
In the second half of the evening session we let the group go a bit. We gave them a Micro:bit and told them we wanted them to just make something cool with it! They had free reign on anything they could find in my room to go with it too, so they needed to let the creative juices flow! I’m a bit of a hoarder in my classroom, so the group has access all kind of bits and bobs. We had a nice variety of projects in the room. Some of the kids made little robots, using the Micro:bit as its face, pinching all my little cardboard boxes in the process. Another boy made a thermometer out of his, and gave it an ace Lego case to go with it. The show and tell at the end of the evening was great. The smiles on the children’s faces as they showed off their cardboard creations was great to see.
On reflection, I found the event really heart-warming in a
way. I have organised and worked on a number of different events, either in
school or in my local area. They have all tended to be for either parents,
pupils, or teachers. I have never really done anything for all three! In the
area I teach in we often struggle with parental involvement, so to see parents
and children tinkering together was fantastic. I kept whispering to the other
staff members how fantastic it was to see throughout the event, and at the end
we even had parents asking if we were going to be doing it every Wednesday! If
you haven’t thought about holding an event like this I really do recommend it!
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