Homework: An Artifically Intelligent Scarecrow To Scare Away Elephants…

Below is an amended article from the New Scientist DAILY NEWS 16 November 2017. With thanks to Dr Scott Turner of Northampton University for tweeting the link:

Elephants can damage nut and banana plantations because they are too big, tough and smart to scare off once they start eating. Now, Australian researchers have developed an AI scarecrow that can do the job.

Scarecrow technology has a long history of failure, and not just for elephants –  animals quickly get used to scarecrows and ignore them. Many growers have described birds perching and even roosting on devices that were designed to scare them off. So researchers from CSIRO, Australia’s national research organization, decided the answer was artificial intelligence.

Their AI scarecrow has three elements: sensors that detect what kind of pest is approaching, a processing brain to identify them and decide how best to respond, and deterrent devices that can respond intelligently with the right combination of sound or light.

Then it is loaded with a library of predator sounds, animal alarm calls and irritating tones, as well as its own self-generated noises – anything we would consider as scary or startling – leopard and tiger growls can make elephants depart the sceneIt’s also well known that elephants are terrified of bees.
This won’t just help people – it could also save elephants. Vivek Thuppil of the University of Nottingham says that 400 people and 100 elephants die each year in India alone in due to human-elephant conflict, often triggered by crop raiding.

Some questions for you to answer to discuss next Tuesday:

  • Can you say what AI stands for and describe in your own words what it is?
  • Can you write an algorithm for this scarecrow (If This, Then That)?
  • What do you think this scarecrow should look like?
  • Can you think of any other uses for this invention?
  • Can anyone try to code a project like this in Scratch?! Prize: anyone who makes it in Scratch can work as a small team with one of our lovely volunteers to try to then develop it using Micro:bits.



Festive Message

I spent hours making mine and it still doesn’t do all that I want it to do (if you get an error message below, you need to run Flash – it won’t work on Apple tablet etc):

I cannot find a way to make authentic-looking falling snow from a custom sprite. I am going to award  the following prizes, as judged by our volunteers:

  • Best authentic-looking falling snow from an imported sprite
  • Best Christmas poem generator
  • Most effective animated festive message – remember that simpler may be better, I think mine has too many sprites and too much happening.

Happy Coding!


The Fluffy White Cloud Is Just Someone Else’s Server

Look what Marce made for us at home last night! Isn’t she the best?

What a great way to demonstrate to everyone that “The Cloud” isn’t a vague concept made of white fluffy stuff and lovely unicorns but is just, in fact, someone else’s server. Which has access to all the data you upload. I like the interactive question too.

I’ve added it to the inventions display board -thanks Marce!

(PS Tim and Miss Gillan would like one for their displays too and I know you have Wednesdays free..)

Year 5 Green Goblins competition

I promised year 5 I would tell them more about the car kit competition so here it is!

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), is passionate about inspiring the next generation of engineers in the UK, and is currently running a competition which will lead to the funding of eight Greenpower Goblin kit cars, for primary schools, ages 9-11. The electric kit cars are funded with support from engineers to help the students build their vehicles.

Three of the engineers that we met a couple of years ago through I’m An Engineer Get Me Out Of Here, now work at DETC, which is involved in this project that is designed to engage young students with maths and science in a fun way, promoting equality regardless of economic background and gender. Students from the winning schools will receive engineering support and be mentored by the DETC team and its affiliate companies on a regular basis. This is so students can work together to design, build and race two electric cars in the Greenpower competition in Dunton, July 2018.

Greenpower is an educational organisation whose aim is to inspire young people to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at University and, hopefully, bolster the industry with greater knowledge, expertise and skill. The racing of electric cars not only encourages sustainable engineering and technology, it also encourages teamwork, innovation, problem solving, and technical aptitudes.

Good Luck year 5!


Micro:bit First Birthday competition

How could the micro:bit help us to celebrate our 1st Birthday?

Join the party!! It’s been an amazing year and we’ve loved sharing it with you. We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way on this incredible journey and what better way to mark the occasion than with a Birthday Challenge!

We have seen some fabulous micro:bit creations over the last year and we can’t wait to see what amazing ideas and devices you can come up with to help us to celebrate our first birthday. Whether you’re inventing the micro:bit birthday candle or maybe a micro:bit controlled disco ball…we want to see your ideas!

We will give prizes for the:

  • Best idea
  • Best working device
  • Best instructions

Who can join the party?

Anyone with a great celebration idea can participate.

How to enter?

Please send your entry with any attachments to challenge@microbit.org with “Challenge” in the subject line.

What to include?

Entries must arrive to us by 25th November 2017. The winners will be announced by 9th December 2017.

  • Describe your idea in a document, scan, video or photo
  • Take photos or a video of your device
  • Include instructions on how you made your creation, including the script plus the hex file

And the winners…

Sponsored by our friends at Kitronik, the winning entries will receive a goody bag full of micro:bit swag, be published on microbit.org and will be showcased at the micro:bit stand at the BETT Show 2018.

Good luck!

Festive project

Well done to Remy & Evan who are making this project in html, which they are learning themselves – a great start last week!

Please use the comments section to update me on what your project will look like, which programming language you are using, and what makes your project special. Also if you think you will need help with anything in particular (eg if you need to make your own sprites we could learn how to make backgrounds transparent – any suggestions for how to do this?).

I’m really looking forward to seeing your finished projects, you seemed very excited by this challenge!

Mystery plant

My sister needs help from my Code Club detectives! She’s trying to identify a plant in her garden (she’s a qualified garden designer so her knowledge is pretty good already -maybe it’s rare?)

This is the plant – how would you start trying to identify it? Please list what you’d do. Prize for anyone who identifies it!