Only a week until MozFest?

Wow… nearly a year since my first MozFest already? And another one in a week? A lot has happened since then, and it’s all gone so fast.

Last year, I was invited to MozFest by Andrew and the other amazing people in the Youth Zone. I said yes, because it was a new opportunity, a great chance to meet more people and also to develop my computing and presenting skills. I’m so glad I said yes, I got so much out of the whole festival that I’m incredibly pleased to be going again.

But first, let me explain what MozFest is. It’s a brilliant event run by the Mozilla Foundation where hundreds of technology enthusiasts come together from all over the world. Last year there were over 1600 participants from over 50 countries! Its true aim is to diversify the open internet, and while that aim was definitely achieved, I feel that everybody got so much more out of the experience, not just me, as a facilitator, but every participant, from all of those 50 parts of the world. It felt as if the geographical and political boundaries between everyone were broken down, and we were all brought together through a series of workshops, interactive sessions and lectures.

I ran two Sonic Pi workshops last year, based on a spooky theme. Sonic Pi is a programming language built by Sam Aaron (@SamAaron) so that people can create and code music in a friendly and accessible environment. I’ll be doing another one this year, called ‘A Musical Magical Mystery Tour with Sonic Pi’. In this workshop, participants can choose from four different well-known songs to code and edit as they please, making a complete remix, then sharing their work with others. I can’t wait to see what ideas participants will come up with!

As well as this, I’ll be trying something new by running a Processing (@ProcessingOrg) workshop. This is a programming language I’ve been experimenting with recently, and I’ve come to love its easy-to-use interface and helpful syntax reminders. In my workshop (‘Creating MozFest Monsters With Processing’), members will be taught how to create a mythical beast using Processing, which is a language used to create art through a variety of shapes, inputs, colours and co-ordinates. They’ll create a passport-photo-sized monster, which will be printed out and put into a scrapbook celebrating their work across the weekend. Everybody’s ideas will be different, and I hope that they can embrace their imagination and put it into use during this session.

I’m setting off on the train from Preston to London on Thursday night, and I can’t wait! I’m so excited to see everyone again, like Aoibheann (@FarmSafety4Kid), and Cerys (@RPi_Stuff). I hope their workshops are as entertaining and interactive as they were last year!

Last of all, I must say thank you to all of the Youth Zone team, especially Andrew and Dorine. Everyone plays such a huge part in making our corner of MozFest work, and introducing younger programmers into the community. I also need to say thank you to my school, All Hallows Catholic High, for all of their support and the opportunities they give me, and to everybody who has helped me over the last few weeks writing and testing my workshops.

To anybody who is reading this, I hope to see you there!



By Elise Ainsworth @Girls2Geeks


Over A Year Of Fun and Learning

Woo! It’s been over a year since the first conference I’ve attended, and I thought I would share some of the biggest things I’ve learnt over this year, from questions I get frequently asked, to experiences that were new and thrilling. These pointers are handy for any young, budding workshop-leaders, and maybe some who are just getting into the swing of things. If you do decide to use these tips at an event you attend, let me know!


Let People Take Their Time

One of the most daunting things when somebody is attending a workshop, especially if they’re young or just a beginner, is not being able to keep up with some of the more experienced programmers. Give people quite a bit of time to complete the activity or task. This will reduce pressure on younger participants, and allow the speedier ones to express their creativity and put their own flair on what they’re doing.


Meet As Many People As Possible!

One of the most helpful things if you’re just coming into tech and computing is that there are so, so many people out there! Whether you need their help, or just want a chat, I’m sure they will always be ready. Through Twitter, I have met so many amazing people, and then been able to find out about events where I can meet even more brilliant people! If you’re not quite old enough for Twitter, though, there are plenty of listings for events on Eventbrite: just type in a location (maybe your nearest city) and the sort of event you would like to go to, and then voila! You have an extensive list of events, ready for you to go to, and have a great time. The advantage of knowing, and being able to contact, so many people is that whenever you’re stuck you know that they are there to help. With techie enthusiasts all over the world, there’s bound to be someone who can help with exactly what you’re doing.


Broaden Your Skill Set

It’s all very well knowing exactly what you’re doing for your workshop, but what if somebody wants to go further? What if somebody wants an example of what they could do at home? It’s best if you could learn some more of whatever you’re doing, just in case this happens. It can also improve your confidence with the program, and improve your fluidity with functions and various other commands! Also, it can potentially mean you learn more about the bugs the program has, and how to fix them before being put on the spot.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Starting out giving workshops can be daunting, so don’t be afraid to ask for help when planning or delivering yours. A second opinion is always best! If you’re ever not sure, or if you just want a guinea pig to test your workshop on, ask for some advice! Whether it’s your parents, or a leader at your local Code Club, they’ll definitely want to give you a hand. Alternatively, you can email me using the Question Time page, or Direct Message me on Twitter.


Take Pride In What You Do

Even if your workshop doesn’t exactly go the way you planned it to, take pride in yourself! You’ve had the nerves to get up there and deliver a workshop: that’s hard, and the people attending your workshop will appreciate that! This is probably the most important tip, and if you are having fun, your participants are far more likely to! Be confident and speak loudly, and maintain eye contact with your attendees. Help anyone who needs it, and be friendly. If you’re nervous, participants will feel frightened too.


Thank You

Thank you so much for reading these tips; I hope they’ve been a great help, whether you are running a workshop tomorrow or planning one for years in the future! Let me know if you use these tips, or if you need any help!
Elise 🙂


#RJamboree 2017

On Saturday, in Manchester, there was an amazing event in Manchester called the Raspberry Jamboree. This ‘unconference’ highlighted the Raspberry Pi computer and some of the great things people have been getting up to with it. An ‘unconference’ is a conference-style event, but people register to speak on the day. I presented two talks, the first was on the ‘Girl Geek Community’ and the second was some live demonstrations of Sonic Pi. Over the course of the day, I attended workshops and talks, including Gemma Laytham’s punch card reader workshop, in which we could poke holes out of the cards with a ‘pokeything’ (actually a skewer 😂) and then feed them through homemade punch card readers to make images in Minecraft. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and one that had obviously had a lot of thought put into it. Another workshop was Alan O’Donohoe’s Scratch Racing workshop, another great idea. After that, I went to Cerys Lock’s talk, which was engaging and interesting. It was amazing to see how much she’s got up to in the last year! You can find her on Twitter @RPi_Stuff or visit her website


I’ve heard that this is going to be an annual event: I genuinely hope so, it was amazing, all the things I love rolled into one: tech, learning and fun!

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MozFest Photos

So, I know it was a while ago but recently I began pulling images off Twitter for my presentation tomorrow at the Jamboree in Manchester. Many of these photos were taken at MozFest, and looking back, I hadn’t included any pictures! I’ll put them in this post for anybody simply looking for my latest post, but will put them on that post as well 🙂

Derbyshire Computing Conference

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a conference in Derbyshire with @all_about_code and @MaryMagsPiClub, to give a presentation on Computing In Primary Schools, and also to repeat my workshop from MozFest (see the blog post for a link to the video!). This was an event for teachers, predominantly from primary schools, to come along and receive ideas and learn new skills. I loved this conference, and speaking to different teachers and hearing their stories was definitely my favourite part. This is an annual event, so if you are a teacher, I would advise you to try your best to get there! I hope it carries on for years to come! Thanks to @SwayGrantham for this amazing opportunity!

Elise 🙂

I think we need a catchup…

Hello everyone,

I’m so sorry I’ve not been on my blog for ages – there’s just been so much going on! However, remember that I’m on Twitter @Girls2Geeks, whenever I can be. So, I think I need to give you an update on everywhere I’ve been lately. In the next few posts, I’ll go into more detail.

Elise 😉

Mary MagsPi Club

Another amazing club in the north west of England is the Mary MagsPi Club. Although I have blogged about them before, they have done so much since! All of the multi-talented fast-learning children who participate are not confined to Raspberry Pi, and are quickly extending their knowledge to Codebug, the micro:bit, Crumble, Bloxels and various HATs (just to name a few!). Recently, in the new school year, we have had plenty of new members, all of whom have quickly got involved. While I am writing this, they’ve started on the CodeBug. I can already hear cries of, “this is too easy!” Six weeks ago, they would never had thought that they would be able to program their own video games, and it was obvious in their apprehensive faces that they were excited but nervous. Already they have learnt how to bounce back at the challenges Pi Club throws at them. It shows exactly what the Raspberry Pi can do to you! Anyway, you can find the Mary MagsPi Club website here: or follow them on Twitter @MaryMagsPiClub


Elise 😉