CoderDojo Youths: Aoibheann on hosting her Pi-stop workshop at Mozfest

CoderDojo Ninja Aoibheann, has been involved in her local Dojo (and now also mentors at a second) for over 2 years. Here she explains her recent adventure to Mozfest in London where she ran a workshop.

Last year I went to Mozfest and I had the most amazing time, meeting people, trying out new things and delivering my first ever workshop outside Ireland! This year when I heard the application process for this years event was open I didn’t hesitate and started working on a workshop idea and applied. Last year I ran a workshop on Raspberry Pi and the Explorer HATPro but this time I applied to do a workshop on physical computing with Scratch using the Pi-stop a mini-traffic light add-on for your Raspberry Pi. When I found out that I had been accepted for Mozfest I was so excited. I started making my worksheets and my presentation. I practiced my workshop at my local CoderDojo. Everyone really enjoyed it and are looking forward to the next time I do a Pi-session.

One thing I loved about going to Mozfest is that in the run up we had group calls where we got to know everyone. Our facilitators Andrew Mulholland –  @gbaman1, Dorine Flies and Connor Ballard were on hand to answer any questions we had or help out in any way. That was really cool and everyone was very friendly! I missed the final group call thanks to ex-hurricane Ophelia but I was all set and ready to go and the time just couldn’t come quick enough!


Heading to the UK

On Thursday night, I went to Knock airport for the flight to London with my mum. I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to meet all my friends from last year especially Elise @Girls2Geeks who did an amazing Sonic Pi workshop that I helped out in and we became great friends and have been messaging each other ever since! When I got to London, it was really late and I was so tired, I fell asleep straight away. The next  morning, I headed to the venue, Ravensbourne College, to get ready for Mozfest.

On Friday we had facilitator training, letting us meet everyone and set up the Youth Zone! When I got to Ravensbourne, I met Andrew before dropping off our luggage in the main room. As I was walking down the corridor I met Elise and her dad. It was a super reunion, even though we had been talking on Twitter late into the night and earlier that morning. We had so much to catch up on – it was hard to stay quiet and listen in facilitator training. We then all went to the youth zone and we had a round the world intro and chat about who was running what workshop and who was helping who. After this, it was set up time – as we are kids, we let our elders do the manual set up and we set about making posters and advertising our Youth Zone workshops. We made some cool posters and bagged ourselves a super spot on huge glass windows right in the middle of the action in the youth zone! After all the setup we tested our workshops on pi stops to make sure they were working. Then it was time for the science festival.


On Saturday morning we were up bright and early for a full day of jam packed fun in Ravensbourne. We went to the opening ceremony and met the fox that is Mozilla firefox! My workshop was on Sunday morning so on Saturday I had signed up to help out on the Astro Pi workshop and on Elise’s Sonic Pi workshop as well as doing a stint at the Raspberry Pi dots boards station. Between these, I went exploring on the many open floors of the festival getting amazing ideas and experiencing the whole atmosphere that is Mozfest. The workshops all went really well and everyone really enjoyed them. There were so many teachers on the Astro Pi workshop all learning about how they could get their kids code into space on the International Space Station. I got asked a lot of questions and was so glad that our CoderDojo had participated in Astro Pi before so I was able to answer them all!


At Elise’s Sonic Pi workshop everyone got to chose a song to code and then mash up. There was some super talented people on that workshop and listening to some of their creations was amazing. Elise did a super job running the show and my mum couldn’t wait to get copies of her sheet music! The Raspberry Pi dots boards station was a busy little spot in the corridor where people could come and have a go and move on to a workshop in one of the adjoining rooms. There was a constant queue when I was helping out there – the dots boards are great for teaching circuits (which we had just done in school) and super fun when attached to the Pi and bring your creation to life in Minecraft. We used the aircraft boards on the Saturday.  After a busy day, we headed back to our hotel and Elise, my cousin Saoirse and I went to see Wicked in the West end. It was a great treat,  we loved it!


Hosting my Pi-stop workshop

On Sunday morning it was time to set up and run my workshop. I had to move rooms and run the workshop an hour earlier than planned but it was still a full house and people were coming in and out to see what was happening. Everyone who come to the workshop worked really hard and while I had worried we wouldn’t get it all done as it had two parts everyone did a great job keeping up with me and we got it all done! In my workshop I showed people what a Pi stop is and how to attach it to the Pi. Then we set about lighting the LED’s in scratch and coding them to come on in a traffic light sequence. I had to remember traffic lights in the UK run differently to those over here! When everyone had mastered that we moved on to create a yes/no game in Scratch using the red and green light on the Pi stop. People created a quiz of 5- 10 questions and coded the lights to show if the person answering had the answer right or wrong! It was great seeing kids playing their quiz games with their parents and then trying out their parents quizzes. When the workshop was over I headed into the other room to help Elise with her Monster Processing workshop. I hadn’t done processing before and I am now hooked on trying to create amazing monsters like Elise showed everyone in her workshop.

All in all when we had to leave on Sunday after lunch to get home, I had so many ideas in my head, things to try out, tech to ask Santa for and still over a week later I have so many to try out yet!

Thanks Aoibheann for sharing your experiences and doing such a great job hosting your workshop at Mozfest.

Is there a girl or female mentor at your Dojo that would like to be featured on our blog as part of our role model series for the CoderDojo Girls Initiative? Then email us at [email protected]! Additionally your Dojo can get our free ‘Empowering the future’ guide to help support girls to join and get more engaged in your Dojo here.


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