Computer bootcamps

24 January 2013

Raspberry pi. Image: Gijsbert Peijis
Raspberry pi. Image: Gijsbert Peijis

Aberystwyth Technocamps is set to run another calendar of fascinating two-day bootcamps during 2013 to inspire young people to use Rasberry Pi, Minecraft and LEGO Mindstorm.

The first bootcamp Rasberry Pi – Networked Adventure’ will be held during February half-term (14-15 February) at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and will offer young people the chance to explore the potential of the credit card sized computer.

The sessions will be run by one of the Technocamps’ team at Aberystwyth University.

Dr Mark Neal, one of the academics involved is aware of the huge interest in the small and accessible Raspberry Pi now being manufactured in Sony’s UK factory in Pencoed, South Wales.  

He said, “The Raspberry Pi Foundation, based in Cambridge, is keen to drive down the unit cost of manufacturing the robust Pi and UK-based production costs are fortunately competitive. The founders of the Pi want to ensure that computing is accessible to so that young people can develop their skills in programming and electronics. This approach is exactly what Technocamps is all about."

The bootcamps are hands-on holiday workshops for young people aged between 11 and 19 who have a keen interest in developing their skills in computing beyond the usual screen and keyboard.

Aberystwyth Technocamps lead academic Dr Fred Labrosse wants to ensure young people from across the county benefit through Technocamps.  He said, “We’ve been running workshops in secondary schools across Ceredigion for over a year. In 2013 we are widening the programme to include more out-of-school activity. Bootcamps this year will be based in both Cardigan and Aberystwyth with other events spread across the county.”

As part of this drive, the 2013 programme of Bootcamps also includes boat design, apps for smart phones, LEGO Mindstorm and making 3D objects from the online game Minecraft. By developing workshops around popular activities and games, Technocamps hopes to attract the interest of young consumers and encourage them to get making!

These include The Secret of Ship Design (11-12 February 2013, Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan) and Easter bootcamps include App Inventor Robotics – Smartphones meet Lego Mindstorm (8-9 April 2013, Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan) and Printcraft – Minecraft meets 3D Printing (11-12 April 2013, Aberystwyth Arts Centre).

Places are limited and available on a first come first served basis, and registration is a must. For more details and to book your place go to www.technocamps.com or contact Lisa Fisher on 01970 622454/ lisa.fisher@technocamps.com.

Professor Faron Moller, Director of Technocamps, added, “Initiatives such as Technocamps are focused on encouraging young people to become producers of technology and not just consumers. With so much production and services now procured from abroad there is a real and urgent need for the UK to develop skills in the young so that at a later stage in their learning path they may choose to study within the sciences, technology, engineering or maths and ultimately have a career in one of those disciplines.
It’s the only way the UK will be able to compete with other economies in the future. During the 80s, the UK has some fantastic learning initiatives in computing based in schools and homes and driven by the likes of the BBC. We want to inspire young people to understand technology again. Technocamps provides opportunities for young people to have fun investigating technology’s potential.”

Technocamps
Technocamps is a £6 million project funded by Welsh Government ESF funding and is led by Swansea University in partnership with the Universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor and Glamorgan that provides daily and weekly sessions to young people aged 11-19 on a range of exciting computing-based topics such as programming, robotics, cryptography, animation and much more.

The £3.2bn Structural Funds programmes 2007-2013 in Wales include the Convergence programmes for West Wales and the Valleys (the successor to Objective 1), and the Regional Competitiveness and Employment programmes for East Wales. The programmes are delivered through the Welsh Assembly Government and are aimed at creating employment opportunities and boosting economic growth.

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