It’s that time again! The year is drawing to a close, and the festive season is kicking off. Mince pies abound and scent of fir fills the air! And all the blinky lights get us dreaming, and I’m not talking about the ones hung about the house and on trees!
Our favourite new robotics project is the Ozobot Bit. These super cute little robots have a great coding interface and pathway – we are using them in our new afterschool clubs starting in January. They have only just become available in the UK and we think they are the cat’s meow. Check them out on their website and available to purchase on Amazon.co.uk. We loved them so much we made a little video when we got them up and running!
Kano with the screen
By now you’ve probably heard about Kano kits – they take the power of a Raspberry Pi and add the ease and intuitiveness of their own operating system and BOOM your kids are building hardware and coding software by themselves. Their latest kit uses the Raspberry Pi B *and* you can now buy it with its own screen – which gets around the main tricky part of using Raspberry Pi! We’ve seen the kids light up using Kano in our club courses, and at home. A bit pricey at £189, but a good and educational starter computer for your budding coder! Buy here.
If a laptop is more your style, check out the Pi Top. It’s still on IndieGogo for the moment, but it will have an integrated screen and a price tag, they say, of $99. Presumably it’s using the Raspbian operating system. You could order now but I’m afraid it won’t be there by Christmas!
Have you heard about Google Cardboard?? If not, you will! They killed Google Glass but put together this do it yourself virtual/augmented reality platform. Just add a smartphone. We have plans to run workshops to laser cut and customise your own, but in the meantime you can find little kits like this one for under £3!
Raspberry Pi Zero
The UK’s computing phenomenon has done it again. Last week they released the Raspberry Pi Zero – a dinky, £4 version, gum-size version of their original tiny computer. Crazy! They’ve made it especially for “embedded” projects – so you can build it in to the prototypes that your young ones made at Maker camp last summer! They sold out in minutes, but they’ll be back in stock soon. Our favourite Pi-provider Pimoroni will zip it to you in 24 hours once they get it back on the shelves. We suggest splashing out the £8 to get their starter kit.
Bare Conductive Touch Board and Pi Cap
We are huge fans of the Bare Conductive Touch Board – an Arduino card that can play music with built in touch and proximity sensors – so many ways to make that fun! The Touch Boards themselves are on sale at the moment for £37.40 AND they’ve got a hat to put on your PiZero on the way, so you can make a teeny tiny music playing, proximity sensing computer!
Sam Labs/Little Bits
Last year we talked about the littleBits synth kit, which we still love. This year littleBits has come out with a range of Arduino and cloud bits, making it even more useful and exciting (especially for the bigger kids in your family) and allowing you to rock your own IoT prototypes. So fun, so easy. We’ve run workshops this year and seen kids and adults alike really loving the way littleBits lets you play and create with technology. We’d love to check out their Space Kit – intriguing!
In a similar vein, we’ve started using the Sam Lab kits. Similar idea – Lego-style electronics and prototyping – but Sam Labs’ kits are all wireless. Shop here.
I’m starting to think I have an obsession with size! Here’s my most favourite of all tiny kit. Tiny retro games arcades. So many ways to love these. And they come with libraries so you don’t have to write all the code yourself (but you can mess around with it if you want to!). You can buy all the tiny circuits now and if you get the files for the arcades you can come to the Fab Lab and we’ll help you make it!
late entry because we just discovered it …the..
Sphere BB-8 robot
How can you resist? £109 at Curry’s. So awesome.
Obviously the best gift of all is the gift of Coding with Friends! Book a course (discounts on our new Sedbergh site til 4 Dec!) or a whole term full of Saturday morning tech exploration at Fire Tech Crew! We have a new gift voucher option when you check out that will alert us and we’ll send you a lovely voucher to give as a gift!
Very best wishes for the holiday from your friends at Fire Tech Camp and Happy Coding in the new year!