Mission Success!

Alex @ Barton Hill

Seven teams of young people across the region complete challenge to have their code run on computers in space!

Seven teams of young people from Bristol and the West have completed the AstroPi Mission Zero coding challenge. The challenge is a national programme which offers young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space by writing computer programs that run on Raspberry Pi computers aboard the International Space Station.

Neeti @ Bradley Stoke

The teams, with members aged from 8 to 14, were all members of DigiLocal, a charitable organisation which seeks to bring coding clubs into the heart of communities through a network of volunteer ambassadors. The challenge was running from February this year, with teams submitting entries based on the Python computer coding language that were developed during DigiLocal club sessions. 

This year 5,677 entries were received from the 24 ESA member/associate member states, with 4,621 being run on the International Space Station.  The certificates of completion were awarded to the seven teams throughout the region in June. Each certificate includes the team name, and a fantastic map on the back with the actual location of the ISS when that team’s program ran.

“We’re enormously proud of the hard work these teams have demonstrated. Giving young people access to opportunities they wouldn’t get elsewhere is key to DigiLocal. We do this by supporting communities to run tech clubs for those young people.”

Dr John Bradford, CEO of DigiLocal
Sara & Naby @ Docklands, St Pauls

The AstroPi challenge was part of British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission Principia (2015–2016) on the ISS. The UK Space Agency and the Raspberry Pi Foundation collaborated to foster young people’s interest in space science and to help them develop computing and digital making skills. For this purpose, two space-hardened Raspberry Pi computers, called Astro Pis, equipped with environmental sensors (a Sense HAT) were sent to the ISS and then used to run students’ and young people’s programs, with ISS crew support.

DigiLocal @ Stockwood Tech Takeover

DigiLocal young people learning how to control Minecraft via Python on a Raspberry Pi 3.

What to do in the half-term? Tech Takeover, of course!

We’ve been working with Nia at the Bristol Libraries Service for some time and were very happy to help support her Tech Takeover day at Stockwood Library on 16 Feb 2017.

Stockwood already runs a very successful CodeClub so I took some Raspberry Pi 3’s along. We soon had kids building games inside Minecraft using the Python API.

All the kids managed to get a working game running, a couple even completed the extra challenges at the end. The guides were all on the Raspberry Pi’s, I was just there to help trouble shoot syntax errors. Although coding is sometimes seen as a solitary activity, there was lots of social interaction with kids helping each other out; usually before I could get around the table to them myself, which is brilliant!

New tech ambassador helping his mum out with Minecraft & Python.

The focus for DigiLocal has always been supporting communities to run their own high quality tech clubs. The engagement from the young people was evident, one young lad stayed for over two hours and was asking for more Python projects (even ones that didn’t involve Minecraft)!

Stockwood Tech Takeover was unusual for us in that it was a single day. DigiLocal is normally a weekly activity in a community centre, library, or youth group. We work in partnership with other providers to provide the diverse communities across the region with regular, high quality, engagement with high tech.