Sittingbourne Jam 10th December 2016

So, after a few months of planning and a lot of trying to drum up attendees and volunteers we finally managed to pull of the first Sittingbourne Jam on 10th December 2016. After struggling to find a suitable venue for the Jam we settled on Ideas Test, No34 High Street Sittingbourne, who were amazing as a venue and allowed us the space and the freedom to put on the Jam we wanted to. Following on from a lot of pleading and bribing with pizza and sweets, I managed to get hold of enough volunteers to run 4 workshops of varying topics and skills. We also had volunteers manning some drop in activities ranging from Hacking Minecraft, Sonic Pi and (trying to) Program a UnicornHAT. Thanks to Swale Young People, we are able to provide attendees and volunteers of the Jam with lunch in the form of pizza, pizza being the traditional food available at a Jam.

Introduction to the BBC Micro:Bit

Patrick, from Swale Young People, ran an excellent introduction to the BBC Micro:Bit session which included an overview of what the Micro:Bit is and some basic programming activities. Participants of the workshop were able to create a rock, paper, scissors game and then compete against each other to see who would prevail. As I was unable to attend the workshop, the response from the participants was overly positive and they felt that they had learnt something from the workshop.

Burping Jelly Babies

Following on from Patrick’s wonderful workshop, I had the chance to redeem myself from the failure of my session at Mozfest 2016 by running my session from the festival as a workshop at this Jam. After getting Nick to troubleshoot the worksheets while I was finishing the setting up of the event, the workshop went smoother than at Mozfest. At least this time, most participants managed to get there Jelly Babies to make a sound (even if it did mean pulling the wires out of the Jelly Baby and touching them together, desperate times call for desperate measures). Every participant seemed to have good things to say regarding the workshop so I’m hoping that this was actually the case and they weren’t just being nice to me.


Mike, from Medway Makers, lead the (apparently, I wasn’t in it! 😅) amazing GPIO Zero workshop where the participants were able to use the GPIO Zero module on the Pis to control LEDs (both single coloured and RGB) and to control buzzers. Due to this being run at the same time as the Radio Building workshop and near the end of the event, the turn out to the workshop was low (well people clearly missed out on a wonderful workshop), despite this participants were commenting on the amount they learnt from the workshop and that they were going to go home and play with the module to see what they could do.

Radio Building

We had Tom come in and allow some attendees to the Jam to build a fully functioning radio which they could take home. The radio was a medium wave, and allowed the participants to improve their/learn soldering skills and their basic electronics skills. Due to the length of the workshop, participants were unable to partake in the GPIO Zero workshop and due to complexity of the radio participants were there some time after the event finished in order to complete their radios. Following the events from the Jam, I’ve decided that the Radio Building workshop will only be available at longer Jams and larger events as it’s a push to complete a radio within the time frame of a standard Jam. We ended the Jam with 4/6 radios fully functional and able to pick up the local radio station. If you want to book Tom and his radio building workshop for any of your future events the full costings and breakdown of the workshop is available here.

Show and Tell

Along with the four amazing workshops, we also had Ian, from the Maidstone Hackspace, bring along his aptly named Shimmerbot (lovingly decorated by his daughter, who stole the rest of the Jelly Babies) which was a Pi Wars 2015 entry. The Shimmerbot was being driven around the floor, honestly surprised it didn’t get trodden on.

Tom and Co, brought along their living wall. The idea behind the living wall is that if you can’t spread out to grow your food, spread up. The principle of vertical farming is to intensify a given space for maximum food production and minimum effort. We can use technology to help us control and optimize the growing conditions whilst also automating some of the tasks.  By using IoT(Internet of Things) we can share databases of plant knowledge and deskill some of the growing procedures. E.g. different types of plants require different growing conditions so when we enter in our plant type, the database returns the correct parameters to water, feed and light the living wall, maximizing all the resources and growing as efficiently as possible.

Photo courtesy of Tom Colins

Overall I feel that the event was a success and I would love to do another event at Ideas Test No34 in the future, maybe even set up a regularly meeting team of hackers and tinkerers to take on the challenges from the Pioneers scheme which has just been rolled out by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

The next Jam in Kent will be within the GEEK Festival at Dreamland, Margate.

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