On Wednesday 11th October two of our Yardies Tom Léost and Neale Denton went to the Skills Cymru event at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena!
Skills Cymru is an interactive career and skills event, aimed at secondary schools across South Wales. Throughout the day coaches of Year 10 pupils from a variety of schools were dropped off and descended upon the multiple stands in waves to explore the exhibits. A wide range of companies across various sectors were represented at the event!
We were lucky enough to be invited onto the ESTNet stand, where we hosted some interactive, hands-on demos of Raspberry Pi computers. Our aim was to try and prompt enthusiasm and interest in Computing and Technology careers.
To grab the attention of the attending student we needed to think outside of the box!! We achieved this with the help of several pieces of “magical fruit”! We wired these fruits up to a Raspberry Pi, and asked our visitors to touch the fruit. Many people understandably hesitated at the weird request, some even expecting an electric shock! When they eventually plucked up the courage they were surprised to find that touching each fruit played a different sound, mimicking a drum kit!
After drawing the students in with the fruit we jumped at the opportunity to explain the other two Raspberry Pi demos we had on display.
One Raspberry Pi was connected to a monitor and mini receipt printer with a control pad as input. The students were asked to select albums using the controller, simulating a checkout experience at a music store. After selecting a few albums and clicking ‘Buy Now’, a receipt was printed. This showed the user their purchases and offered some recommendations for other albums they might be interested in. These recommendations were determined by a data driven algorithm, programmed in Python on the Raspberry Pi itself!! The recommendations were based on machine learning of the purchase history data, collected through the device. Most of the recommendations were accurate, but as some pupils selected albums at random, the algorithm seemed to make some questionable recommendations as the day progressed. Skrillex and One Direction?
The second Raspberry Pi was running the game Minecraft whilst being connected to a monitor, mouse and keyboard. We asked people to try building a very tall, one-by-one, tower as quickly as they could. This is a very repetitive and time-consuming task for a human player to perform using a keyboard. After a few torturous minutes of watching them struggle to build the towers manually, we gave in and showed them how to execute a Python script to build the tower almost instantaneously.
This allowed us to make the point that humans are smart, but slow. This is in comparison to computers which are dumb but very fast. By combining the intelligence of humans with the speed and power of computers, we can achieve amazing things!!
Throughout the day we had the opportunity to speak to many pupils, and in the evening, some teachers and parents! We had the pleasure of meeting many pupils who were interested in computing and learning to code! Tom, a recent graduate in Software engineering, could offer many of them advice on the range of current courses and careers available in computing and related fields.
We are proud to say we played our part in encouraging the next generation to study computing! And who knows? Maybe one day one of them will become a Yardie!
EDIT: Estnet have now written up their thoughts on the event which can be found here