Y Pant students have been taking part in the Technocamps Robotics Competition this term. Several students have been coming regularly to the E3 robotics club on Mondays after school, run by Miss Bunce.
We received a Lego Mindstorm robot on loan from Technocamps and the students have been building a robot to start with a clap and follow a line along the floor to guide hospital visitors. It also uses the ultrasonic sensor to stop if it senses an obstruction.
The final of the competition was held at the University of South Wales in Treforest. Teams had to demonstrate their robot’s capabilities and then take part in a 1.5 hour challenge to reprogram their robot to dance to a sequence of Gangnam Style.
The competition was judged on their original robot, the dancing challenge, a video of the club’s work and a poster. The Y Pant team didn’t win but David King was singled out by the judges for his excellent programming and team leadership.
All enjoyed themselves – and we hope to run another Robotics club next term!
Last week 8 students from Y Pant attended the 2nd Wales Game Development Show at the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay. The show, now in its second year hosted over 60 exhibitors and showcased the very best of the Welsh computer gaming industry as well as the BAFTA Cymru Awards for Games.
The games industry is an increasingly important part of the Welsh economy – the event was supported by the Welsh Government.
Economy Minister Edwina Hart:
Games development is a highly competitive and rapidly growing area of the economy which is supported by the Welsh Government through our Digital Development Fund that is helping to bring an exciting range of new games and apps onto the market.
Year 12 ICT students are working towards the OCR Cambridge Technicals course in IT. They are currently working on two modules, one on project planning looking at ways in which big IT projects are managed and how smaller software developers use Agile processes. The other is a module on Computer Game development. This event was ideal for them to learn from professionals how games are conceived, financed, developed and tested. It was also an excellent opportunity to play games (an important part of the testing process – you can actually get a job playing games). I was moved quickly on from most stands when it became apparent I am a total novice with a Playstation controller…
We found out about the show after making contact with Wales Interactive, a small but increasingly successful games development company based at Sony in Pencoed when the GCSE Computing group visited their offices last Autumn. The show was organised by Wales Interactive – who also scooped the British Academy Cymru Award for Games with iOS game, Go Candy!
It was an excellent day out and a real eye opener to see the sheer quality of games being developed by studios in Wales. It’s a sure sign of a bright future!
Technocamps are running free workshops at half-term at the University of Glamorgan in Treforest. They may also be able to provide free transport.
If you are interested in one of these courses please see Miss Bunce in room 1 ASAP to reserve a place.
Computer Game Ethics (Suitable for Y11, 12 ,13)
(able Year 10 pupils are also welcome)
Monday 11th – Wednesday 13th February
Treforest Campus, University of Glamorgan, 9.30am-4pm daily
This 3-day course including the following:
Pupils will discuss the ethics related to the making, playing, distribution, content and promotion and of modern computer games.
Pupils will carry out a research methods project which requires the pupils to develop a presentation on Computer Game Ethics, along-side an educational computer game they have developed for primary school age pupils, in software such as Scratch.
At the end of the course, pupils will deliver their presentation and demonstrate their game to a panel of assessors.
The research part of this course leads to a 5-credit accredited module in Research Methods qualification at Level 4 which can be added to UCAS Application forms to show experience of study at Level 4/ 1st Year Undergraduate level.
Gamemaker for Beginners (Suitable for Y10, 11, 12 & 13)
(able Year 9 pupils are also welcome)
Thursday 14th-Friday 15th February
Treforest Campus, University of Glamorgan, 9.30am-4pm
An introduction to GameMaker software which is used by undergraduate students on the Computer Game Development course at the University of Glamorgan.
Pupils will be introduced to the GameMaker software, work through tutorials to teach them the basics of game development and be encouraged to develop their own games and share them with the class.
Transport can be provided for pupils from their school gates each day if required.
All courses are free of charge, pupils will have to provide a packed-lunch or bring lunch money each day.
Until last Tuesday, few students realised that we have a world class high-tech manufacturing facility just down the road in Pencoed. Sony have been based in South Wales for many years and used to manufacture CRT televisions in Bridgend. Their factory in Pencoed now manufacture high-end broadcast cameras along with a variety of 3rd party products. You can find out more by visiting the Sony Pencoed website.
One of those products is the Raspberry Pi, a credit card sized computer selling for around £25 which has been designed to give children a cost-effective way of getting into computer programming.
For most students this was their first visit to a high tech manufacturing facility. Donning anti-static jackets and shoes, we had the full tour. The main Sony product manufactured in Pencoed is their range of broadcast cameras. They have a clean room where dust particles are measured in order to produce high quality optical blocks. Sony also have a repair centre onsite and students were surprised to learn that the PSP one of them had sent back for repair would have been fixed here.
Utilising the expertise, equipment and space in Pencoed, Sony also offer Contract Electronic Manufacturing – such as the Raspberry Pi. They are now producing around 16,000 Raspberry Pi’s a week and employing 30 people on the production line. We followed a batch of 6 Raspberry Pi’s up the production line and saw how the basic boards arrive in the factory 6 to a board. Students saw the solder paste squeegeed onto the boards through a mask, then the high speed robotic arms attaching the smaller components from tape reels. The larger components are then fitted in a separate machine which moves at a slower pace to avoid knocking them out of position. At this point the boards are checked to ensure they have all the correct components before being put into the oven. This carefully controlled environment fixes the solder. The boards are run through a second production line to repeat the process for the underside (SD card mount etc.). As you’d expect, Raspberry Pi’s are tested for quality control and functionality within the factory and students were interested to see that software has been written to do some of this. Computing is used in the manufacture of computing, something that hadn’t occurred to many of the students.
As well as seeing the Raspberry Pi production we also saw some of the other products built there such as LED streetlighting. For fun Sony showed us how some of their broadcast filming and editing kit can be used – with a green-screen allowing them to try out Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak! We also saw some short film clips using the 4K projector which are maintained in Pencoed.
Free office space at Sony has been turned into a Business Incubation Centre hosting many smaller companies and tech startups. One of these, Wales Interactive, gave us a great talk. Their 15 or so employees (in roles as programmers, animators, artists and musicians) have created a number of games and apps for iOS, Android and consoles entirely in house. Many of the staff are graduates of the University of Glamorgan’s BSc in Computer Games Development . For my students, seeing just some of the study and employment options open to them within a few miles of home if they choose to follow a career in Computing was a real eye opener.
Finally we saw Sony’s education solutions in a classroom. We were impressed at the way in which lessons or parts of lessons can be recorded and then viewed online later.
We don’t currently have Raspberry Pi’s in school (I’ve been making sure one of the IT suites is kitted out with USB keyboards and mice, and screens with DVI inputs first – we’re pretty much there). One of the students has a Raspberry Pi at home and all are now looking forward to getting their hands on some at school.
I thought it was really nice to find out finally where my Raspberry Pi was made, and to see all the technology and effort it takes to make one.
I use my Raspberry Pi for many things including watching videos on YouTube and basic web browsing and some small bits of coding. I also like the program scratch which allows me to build fun but basic games in my free time which comes free with the Raspberry Pi. If the school were to get some Raspberry Pi’s I think it would be fun to learn to code, on and to experience a different OS than the standard windows that we are used to.
Thanks very much to Richard Wilkins of Sony for organising the visit.
Four girls in year 9 were lucky to have the opportunity to attend a Young Technologists event at BBC Wales in Llandaff, organised by the BBC Academy as part of a drive to increase the number of women going into engineering and technology careers. Chloe Booth-Jones, Lauren Billet, Emma Bann and Megan Prewett were chosen at random from a much larger group of girls who wanted to come!
The day started with an introduction from event organiser and BBC Academy Centre of Technology trainer Aradhna Tayal. She described how her 4 maths and science A-levels had led her to a degree in Engineering and then on to a tech career in the BBC. Next up was Anwen Aspden, executive producer of the BAFTA award winning Doctor Who adventure game “The Gunpowder Plot”. The girls were very impressed by a glamorous woman standing up in front of the crowd and announcing “I’m a massive gamer!” then going on to explain the huge variety of roles needed in creating an exciting adventure game such as this. Generally gaming is considered to be a nerdy boy-thing but girls play games too – and many of the programmers, animators, artists, musicians and producers in the computer games industry are women. It’s a massive career opportunity for anyone at school.
After a working lunch where we spent time talking to the many BBC staff members who had given up their time for the day, we were assigned to radio. (Huge cheers from the girls!). This was also very well organised. The Y Pant girls were into the studio first and slipped into their roles of presenter, newsreader and guests very professionally. They had a script for a short show that was “produced” by the 4 students from Pontllanfraith School. They had to fade in their own microphones and I was surprised and impressed by their fluency. All took it in turns to sit in Derek Brockway’s chair before swapping to produce the show for the other school.
I had hoped to get away with it, to have a few days away from school and from work. But no, as I walked into the office this morning I was presented with my desk, my computer and a set of tasks. The first challenge was that the computer has a Korean operating system and I was told all I needed to do was click, click, click, click and click. By the third click I was error messaging in Korean!!
My task was to create some banner images for a travel site that the company Afterabc is putting together, all sounded remarkably straightforward, and I suppose after the first 75 mistakes I found my way and produced my first piece of work for an overseas company.
In years to come, hopefully many years to come, I will be reminiscing with my children and grand children – I remember the time when I had to work in Korea, unpaid, on a Korean computer, but wow, back to reality more photographs to resize and upload.
If you need to access your school work on the Y Pant computer network you can use Reach.
Login using your username and password as you would in school. You can then download files to your home computer and upload files to the school network. If the file already exists in school it’s best to upload it with a new filename.
Some file extensions might be blocked. If you have a problem with this please let your ICT teacher know as soon as possible and we will let you know if it can be unblocked.
Don’t upload loads of music to listen to in school though – we have limited space on our student server!
On 20th January a group of 20 year 12 ICT AS students visited Ikea in Cardiff to investigate how ICT is used within the store. We were given an extensive tour of the store by Human Resources manager Zoe Bunston.
First port of call was the shop floor where we saw a team of people from Interior Design putting the finishing touches to a room setting. We learned how each room is given a “story” for the target market. Every room you see in Ikea is first designed by the Interior Design department using CAD software on the computer to make sure all the furniture will be appropriately placed and will look good together on the shop floor.
We then observed one of the Ikea co-workers assisting a customer in the Home Furnishings department. We saw how the computer system allows them to look up the details of any of the products by scanning the barcode and finding out more details including how many are in stock.
The Kitchen department is one of the most important in Ikea and here customers can use CAD software to design their own kitchens. Students were all given 15 minutes to try out the software with assistance given by the professional kitchen designers.
After this we were taken behind the scenes to see the Graphics and Interior Design departments. This is where all the signage for Ikea Wales is produced and where the interiors of all the rooms are designed.
Following lunch in the Ikea restaurant we were given high-vis jackets and taken downstairs to the logistics control room. Here we learned how Just-In-Time stock control works at Ikea and saw the hand-held computers with barcode scanners used on the forklift trucks. We were also taken into the sectioned off area of the warehouse where customers do not normally go.
Lastly we visited the Human Resources department and saw how they use a computer system to schedule staff rotas using data on customer numbers from previous years to help them predict required numbers of staff.
Throughout the tour Zoe helped students to understand the sort of skills Ikea looks for in its employees and asked each co-worker to explain the different jobs they had had during their time at Ikea.
This was a very insightful trip and not only gave us all a far more in-depth understanding of how large retailers use ICT, but also opened students’ eyes as to the sorts of careers they could have and the importance of key skills in these jobs.