So, during Black Friday 2016, Ryanair were doing cheap return flights to Belfast in January. I knew Andrew (Northern Ireland Jam Organiser) was doing a Jam in January and that he’d been annoying me to come and visit, which every other time I’d been brushing off with “I can’t afford it”. So during the Ryanair sale, I thought I’d take the chance and A) fly on my own for the first time and B) go and what mayhem Andrew gets up to during his Jam.

So at stupid o’clock (around 0600) on a Saturday morning, I dragged my body out of bed and to Gatwick to start the journey to the Northern Ireland Jam. I have to say that a row to yourself on a plane is lovely – if you can get one, it’s amazing!

Andrew has a lovely group of volunteers that quite honestly probably don’t need him there anymore and could run a Jam on their own, something which I unfortunately, don’t have in Kent, need to work on that – well just getting some regular volunteers would be nice. He also boasts a completely different format to his Jams to any other one I’ve been to, with a single focus new activity for each Jam and then a selection of worksheets of previous activities to complete (may have stolen the worksheets for Kent).





At this particular Jam, the focus activity was an activity created by Sam, using the PiStops and Scratch so combining a basic block based programming language with some basic physical computing. The activity seemed to be aimed at basic programmers and newbies to the Raspberry Pi and physical computing. The kids (and adults) seemed to enjoy the activity and I’m thinking about implementing it at some future Jams in Kent. Sam, you’ll be famous in Kent! 😆

Unlike with my Jams, mainly as volunteers travel a considerable distance and need to get home, the volunteers occasionally go out for a meal after the Jams, seems to be at Vincent‘s family Chinese, as a celebration that the Jam is over and no one died (probably why). I’m hoping to implement something similar for the volunteers of the Kent Jams, until I have more local volunteers people will have to live with the occasional takeaway during the Jam, providing I can find the funds to do this.

It was nice to go over and see how someone else ran their Jam and what works and doesn’t work in certain places. Quite nice to see that even Andrew is having issues with his Jam and that I’m not the only one. So now that I’ve been to Northern Ireland I think Andrew should come to Kent! (very slim chance but it might work) I know I’ve got a lot of work to do with my Jam to even get it close to functioning in an orderly fashion, so I guess I’ll just have to keep going until it gets a bit nearer.

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