26th -30th October saw the annual gathering of the UK Python community at Cardiff City Hall. The conference is run by volunteers and despite being UK based, attracted attendees and presenters from across the globe. This year, the conference featured data and educational tracks alongside lightning talks, Code Clubs, Raspberry Jams and our very own Micro:bit Python Mini Summit. It was an opportunity to share ideas and see some of the fantastic creations and collaborations happening around Python and micro:bit.
As part of the education track, children were able to work with members of the Micro:bit Educational Foundation, the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Python Software Foundation to learn new skills and try out combinations of micro:bit, Raspberry Pi, Mu Editor, PiTop, Sense HAT, cameras and speakers. These workshops led on to some of the young people addressing the entire conference with their creations as part of Saturday’s lightning talks.
One of the key highlights of PyCon, was the openness, inclusivity and enthusiasm of the community, meaning that those contributing to the event in presentations and lightning talks felt encouraged and valued. Much of what the children said about their programming experiences “we typed a lot of code in and we took a lot of code out!” resonated with software developers of all ages and abilities.
Sunday’s Micro:bit Mini Summit was a chance for the team to talk to the community about our first year as the Foundation and to get feedback about the future development of micro:bit. The schedule for the day is available on the PyConUK site and involved talks, discussions and our Show-And-Tell event, which gave inventors an opportunity to bring along their amazing micro:bit creations. Amongst others, we got to play with @SolutionsByDave's Klawsome robots, @uk_baz's huge bluetooth buttons, micropython musical resources from @CorinneWelsh and medibit; a wearable, fast-response aid aimed at supporting epilepsy sufferers and developed by @all_about_code.
Of course, whilst all this was happening there were some amazing talks and demonstrations taking place elsewhere in Cardiff City Hall. In no particular order, the teams highlights include:
- Lessons from combining micro:bits, Raspberry Pi’s and TensorFlow A talk by Luke Spademan, who attended the PyConUK kids day last year, and this year had a talk in the main conference track to a packed room!
- Micro:bits and MicroPython in Schools & Clubs A very cool workshop from Sarah Townson, including tips on how to run a successful workshop with primary and secondary students.
- Panel Discussion - Python in Education Chaired by Dan Pope. A great insight about the current educational climate, what have we done well, what can we improve and where can we go from here.
- Keynote: It's not the coding curriculum! Keynote from Professor Tom Crick, reflecting on the computing curriculum, how it is much more than coding.
- NetworkZero: network support for clubs, classes & dojos Following the “zero projects” concept of removing unnecessary complexity for beginner-friendly modules, this library by Tim Golden makes it easier to work with networked machines and introduces networking concepts.
- Using Python in Schools - Students' Point of View Corrine Sherman and a group of students from Bristol Free School, give their own perspective about the teaching of Computer Science in schools.
- Edublocks - Making the transition to Python easierJosh Lowe talks through bridging the gap between block coding and Python.
- Code With Mu Great talk from Nicholas Tollervey and Carrie-Anne Philbin talking about the origin of Mu, why there was a need for it, the philosophy behind its goals and how that affects it's development.
- Bitio Our very own David Whale talked about his library to easily control a micro:bit from Python programs running on a PC.
- Stroop Waffles! Free waffles and counted with micro:bit. 78 stroop waffles were handed out over the whole conference!
And last but not least, our production line of micro:bit sweetie bags, pieced together in the micro:bit team house with support from @LMcUnderwood and @guru. These were then hand delivered to all those taking part in the Education Day, and to those developers who took up our challenge of bringing something to micro:bit Show-And-Tell the very next day!
All in all a brilliantly organised and action packed event for all ages. We'd like to thank all involved with PyCon UK and the community for your continued support in developing Python and micro:bit. Particular thanks to Nicholas Tollervey for burning the midnight oil in the micro:bit team house and inspiring and contributing to our talks on Sunday.
We can't wait to do it all again!