Right, I’ve finally got round to putting live the listing of hacks – we had the list finalised, more or less, when we had our 3pm Lab Open Houses. Since that great session, when everyone wandered around and saw everybody elses work, we have refined a few of the hacks, but I’ve also been doing the myriad little things that turn a day like today into a wonderful blur of excellent chats and missions and several dozen “little thing that’ll just take 5 minutes”.
The list outlines the hack name (some are more descriptive than others), who is working on it, and a brief description. As more data becomes available publicly (repositories, circuit diagrams etc) we’ll post links, and potentially set up daughter pages too, but for now, here’s the list.
Here at #FSCHack today we’re making some fantastic things, but arguably to meet quite specific needs. When we commission content or tools at the BBC, we usually have to look at the curriculum first: to find out what students need to know in order to pass their exams, then provide the tools and information to get them there. While I’m excited about how what we’re creating is going to look and work, as a content producer I was worried that it might only be meeting a very limited, specific learning outcome that would just meet one educational need at one point in time.
With this in mind I decided to take our project – which is to find a way of capturing and then displaying data collected by students about river beds and flow – and see if there are ways we can match it to the AS level curriculum. I’ve been wading through some textbooks that the FSC people handily had lying around, and was (perversely) delighted to discover that AS level geography students are expected to display very specific, fixed and arguably quite boring skills around data display, particularly when studying rivers. To get through their exams they have to show understanding of line, bar and scatter graphs, as well as databases.
What this means for us is that while we’re planning on visualising our data in far more interesting and technically complex ways, it’s also worth allowing data to be exported in simpler and rawer forms. This is an easy win, as tools already exist which can be plugged into our data to create resources like this.
I’m interested to see how another element of the geography curriculum – collation of quantitative and qualitative geographical data – can be incorporated into the data capture process. This may mean anything from tweaking the interface to reflect curriculum-related terminology, to rationalising the means by which students can access the raw data after it’s been collected. I think it’ll take quite a few more hours of textbook bashing to get it all worked out!
Live blogging by Rowan Stanfield aka @rowstar. This post will be updated throughout the day as things progress.
9am – We started the day with a hearty cooked breakfast in the FSC Centre canteen, then straight into an intro talk from Ant Miller and a series of lightning talks to get us geared up for the challenges ahead. Harriet White filled everyone in on the FSC’s objectives for having a hack day, and we heard from Brian Whalley on his Enhancement of Fieldwork Learning project, and educator David Rogers on guerrilla geography.
Hack Snacks at 9am. Any bets on how long the hoard will last?
10am – Bouncing straight into our barcamp part of the day, everyone piled out of lab two and volunteered themselves for delivering mini talks. The idea is to share experiences and ideas to feed into the hacking challenges we’ll be tackling later on.
FSC Hack Day Barcamp schedule. Lots of inspiring talks!
11.30am – There was so much cool stuff to share that we extended the bar camps by half an hour, and even took one of the sessions outside. A group of developers participated in a mock fieldwork session with FSC teachers, helping them get to grips with the tech challenges from a student perspective.
FSC Hack Day participants involved in a mock fieldwork session, finding out about the tools used for river measurement.
I also spoke to Ant Miller to find out how the day has been going so far. Here’s a short podcast from him:
12.30pm – After a full morning of barcamps and networking, teams are starting to form around hack projects. The process has been fairly organic, with people bonding over shared interests and mustering around burgeoning ideas. Ant has also been facilitating the creation of teams, introducing people to each other and suggesting suitable contributors for different projects. There’s a real sense of excitement all over the place and everyone’s looking forward to getting stuck in.
Some hacks are already underway, with a weather station project going on in the pop up lab, and another group doing clever things with bat boxes and bat simulators. Here’s a download from Ant on everything that’s being going on in the last hour:
1.15pm – I just visited the pop up lab to find out more about the weatherstation hack that’s going on there. Gordon Henderson, seen here with his Raspberry Pi, told me a bit more about what his team is up to:
2.15pm – In contrast to this morning’s excitable hustle and bustle, there’s an atmosphere of quiet contemplation and concentrated collaboration this afternoon, as the teams focus on their various projects. In lab one, there’s a group looking at historical river data and tracking changes through graphs, while in lab two another team is working on an idea for an app that will facilitate instant analysis and data visualisation in the field.
‘Instant Analysis’ (working title) group in lab two.
2.30pm – Update: Lab two’s project has now been dubbed ‘FLAIR’ (Field Log Analysis Instant Resource).
2.50pm – Having access to a RepRap 3-D printer this weekend is allowing us to experiment with ideas around landscape visualisation in outdoor education. Gemma is currently printing off a models of a beach segment, as Ant explains in this latest FSC Hack Day podcast:
3.30pm – We’ve just finished a round robin open house of all the hacks currently in progress, where everyone got to see what everyone else is working on and offer feedback and support. This has resulted in some new collaborations, where people’s hacks were either closely related, or complementary to each other. The historical data project team have requested 1,000 spreadsheets to use; at the moment they have seven! The bat men are looking to create an iPhone app that will detect and even identify bats, which got everyone quite giddy, and the weatherstation hack is coming along nicely.
Helen Purves studying GCSE Geography coursebooks in lab two.
I’ve also been chatting to Helen Purves, who’s had her head in a pile of GCSE Geography course books for most of the afternoon, checking that what we’re developing is actually going to be useful within the curriculum. She wrote up her findings in this guest post.
4.50pm – I caught up with Andy Piper in lab three, who’s working on a field data logging device, currently going under the working title of ‘Floggr’. He’s hooked up with the Bristol Hackspace team, who have been developing a similar idea based around a camera flash trigger. Here’s Andy talking about what he’s trying to achieve and what’s been developed so far:
5.35pm – There’s been so much going on all over the place, that it’s been hard to keep track of everything. Luckily Barney from Bristol Hackspace has been time-lapse photographing the goings on in the pop-up lab, so we can see exactly what they’ve been up to. Here’s one of the time-lapse videos for your viewing pleasure:
9pm – Fuelled up on curry and ice cream, the teams are continuing into the evening as their respective hacks come together. In lab one, the FLAIR team tells me how their instant results project is going:
I also spoke to the ‘Bat Men’ who had just made a bit of a breakthrough:
11.45pm – The last post of Day One and I can report that our hackers are mostly kicking back for some well deserved R&R. A dedicated few are still coding away, but the majority have just returned from the pub and are polishing off the last of the beer and sampling homemade mead.
While we were still in the pub, I managed to grab a quick chat with Steve, to find out how the weather station project has progressed since this morning. He’d spent a couple of hours hanging out with the resident students, showing them what he’s been working on and getting them to design its web site. Here are some thoughts from him on what came out of that session:
It’s coming up to 9pm here in Slapton, and we have most of our attendees here on site (or at a convenient hostelry in the vicinity). People have come from far and wide- Blencathra was a shoe in for the furthest schlep, but then we have someone who has flown in directly from Australia. Which rather takes the biscuit.
Speaking of biscuits, Helen has brought home made cookies- these will fly off our pretty well stocked munchies table, past the Red Bull, Haribo, Pringles etc etc.
The Pop Up Lab is pretty well fully stocked- a huge array of soldering irons, micro-controllers, components and tools have been assembled. So, I’m going to scoot off and check on the last intrepid travelers exploring the narrow lanes of Devon in the lowering gloom, and we’ll be updating tomorrow from VERY early. Breakfast is 7.30, lightning talks start at 9 sharp.
So, lots of attendees are driving down so we’ve prepared this handy little map to show you where in the village you can park. There’s space for a dozen cars or so on site, so after you’ve unpacked your gubbins, we’ll ask that you move to one of the locations marked on the map- don’t worry, they’re all really nearby, but we thought you may as well know up front.
parking map for Slapton Ley Field Centre
If you arrive before 5.30pm, you will be greeted and show to your room by our office staff (the front office is where the pin is). If you are arriving later , Harriet will be there to greet you. If you give her a ring on 07900 312362, she’ll come find you, and show you around. Ant will be on site all day, and there will be space and expertise available for flexing those hack-muscles early. We have 4 labs to play in, one of which (lab 2) will be our lightning talk lab.
Finally, travel safely hackers – enjoy the journey – the beautiful green lanes and the gorgeous coast. We are fizzing with excitement!
On the 18th, 19th and 20th of May 2012 Slapton Ley FSC centre will host scientists, educators, designers and developers working together to prototype new digital learning tools for outdoor education using open data, web and mobile tech. There will be lots for everyone to learn, and (we hope) some amazing inventions. Join us. Click above to apply for a place.