Sheepdog Trials

I have been interested in chaos for a long time. I like swarms – they are chaotic. Each individual in a swarm has a very simple set of rules to follow but overall, the swarm seems to move in a coordinated fashion. As such, I wanted to provide a simple and visual explanation of swarm behaviour that was accessible for people to interact with – MIT’s Scratch seemed the ideal platform then. So by not following what I preach (i.e. plan then code), I decided to mess about and produced a silly game in Scratch. Sadly, there is no swarm behaviour either! Here’s the game – let me know in the comments, if you were able to complete it in less than 70 moves. ControlsYou control the dog (green blob). Click somewhere on the stage to have the dog move there. It will repel sheep (purple) blobs. You can repel sheep more by clicking on the dog and have it bark. Each click counts as a move. The objective is to round all the sheep up into the pen (brown square) in as few moves as possible.

Read more

Message into Space

I run an after-school code club, which is attended by pupils from a few different year groups. I am impressed by what a team of four girls have achieved (aged 11-13). They’ve written code in Python that will run on a Raspberry Pi in the International Space Station (ISS) next year. It sends a message to the astronauts and gives a reading from the temperature sensor. They were limited to a 30 second run-time and the video below shows an emulator of the final output. That’s amazing! They get a certificate showing exactly where the ISS will be in orbit when the code runs. Next year we’ll be getting a physical device to program and actually send into space! We’ll be able to hold something that will actually go into orbit! If you are interested in doing this project, it’s called the Mission Zero.

Read more

Micro:Bit Code Sample

The Micro:bit website is an awesome place to start learning to code. You can create your own programs such as a digital compass through to mini-games. I’ve included an example here. It’s very simple and the Micro:bit has a lot more capabilities that can be used (compass, radio, bluetooth, accelerometer etc.)

Read more
A picture of lilies and a weeping willow.

Exercise, Ducks, Disasters

I’ve still got a few kilos to shed but I’m not supposed to go to the gym when my muscles are still recovering so bike ride it is. By the time I persuaded myself to go after a Sunday morning routine of coffee, breakfast, gardening, reading (currently Norman Doidge – The Brain that Changes Itself), it was nearing midday so my options were limited to places a bit more local. When I search the Web for cycling routes, most that are presented are for road cycling but I have a mountain bike. I resorted to just opening up a map, scanning the area for green patches and found Rother Valley Country Park. I’m sure I’d been there before in my childhood. It’s a water activities centre and the picture of someone mountain biking on the homepage and the 20 min. drive there convinced me it was worth a visit. It’s a very well-maintained park but I wouldn’t describe it as picturesque. It’s family-oriented with a nice paved path running around the lakes. I found myself weaving in between toddlers on training bikes and all the geese flocking to the families doling out bread. Why are people still feeding bread to[…]

Read more