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First Blog – Initial Ideas

In our first school's event lecture and workshop, we had a big brainstorming session. In the first half of the workshop we spoke about what it means to be creative, and how to improve your creativity. This directly prepared us for the brainstorming session in the second half of the workshop, as we tried to collaborate and bring together ideas for the event. The main crux of our idea came from a brainstorming game run by Jude Brereton. The game involved choosing a word at random a building ideas around that particular word. We were split into 3 groups, and our group’s word was ‘lamp’. This was the main starting point for our whole presentation, as we decided we wanted to connect sound with light for our presentation. For me personally, it immediately triggered an idea. In a tv show ‘Stranger Things’ that I had watched recently, one of the main characters communicates using lights relating to letters written on a wall. I immediately thought that perhaps we could combine this with sound somehow, and the students could send each other messages using frequencies that related to letters. Linking our audiovisual presentation with a TV show that the students may have seen, would hopefully make it much more relatable and interesting for the students, and would be an effective way of introducing them to new concepts. The members of our team were Pau, Panos, Dan, Aish, Zhang, and Myself. As our presentation did not require additional resources, we felt PT 207 would be a suitable room for ours to be based.

Second Blog - Preparations

In our meetings between the initial brainstorming session and the actual event, we set about trying to design how we would bring our initial idea to reality. We wanted to allow the students to send light and sound messages to each other and needed a way to do this. We decided that Pure Data would be the most effective way of pulling this off. As a result, we decided to base the whole presentation around the Pure Data programming language, so that students could go away really feeling like they had learnt something completely new, and hopefully spark some interest for them to pursue.

We set about designing the structure of our presentation, and decided to structure it into two main parts. The first section would be entitled ‘build a synth with Dan’. This, unsurprisingly would be run by Dan. This was essentially a 10 minute workshop where Dan would show the students how they could build their very own synth using Pure Data in minutes. Dan would demonstrate on the projector, and the students could follow along, with the rest of the team sat among the students lending a hand if they got stuck. The second part would be the main ‘Stranger Things’ game, where students would answer questions and then spell out the answers using a midi keyboard. When pressing a particular note on the keyboard, a particular note of the alphabet would light up on the projector, and the other team would write down the answer. One of the key weaknesses our dress rehearsal highlighted was the game was a little tricky to understand. So I was tasked with creating a clear and concise power point presentation that would effectively explain how the game would work, and how it relates to pure data. In addition to this, I was also in charge of designing  business cards with information about Pure Data so that the students could download the software and have a go at home.

Third Blog – The Event

3 classes of 10 from 3 different schools took part in the event, one after the other in 30 minute slots. In each of the 3 presentations, I said hello and we each introduced ourselves and welcomed them to the University of York’s electronics department. Overall, I was extremely pleased with how the event went as a whole. The classes abilities and levels of engagement varied hugely, but nonetheless we performed well as a team, and my job – making sure the game was understood – came true. The success of the event was down largely, to each member of the team going away and completing their particular task or tasks. As each of us did what we promised we would, everything came together well on the day. The first class compared to the 3rd was a huge difference in terms of abilities and levels of interest. The first class seemed quite uninterested, and the questions for the game were clearly at a too high a level. The third class were completely different however, with a real keen interest and questions which they found far too easy. However, generally all the students seemed to enjoy our event and we all felt, went away knowing more about pure data than they did when they came in.

Team meeting to discuss schools event

Pure data business cards for students

Me presenting the 'stranger things' power point

Build a synth with Dan

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