Thursday, 13 November 2014

Robot invasion

Back in April I blogged about the wonderful March of the Robots events the kids and I had such fun attending.  This half term saw the climax of the year's festivities with a massive party, and we were first in the queue for tickets.

First of all we went to the chocolate robot workshop in the city centre.  We got a set of sweets each, a pot of melted chocolate to use as glue, a stir stick to apply it and a sheet of greaseproof paper on which to assemble our masterpieces.

There was an example on the table to follow, which looked pretty cute.  Never managing to resist the urge to jazz food up a bit, I gave it a face and sprayed it with the edible silver spray.

Now, we're not the sort of family to follow instructions if there's a chance to go our own way.  The facilitators were split - one kept telling us we were doing it wrong while the other was delighted that we threw ourselves into the activity with originality and enthusiasm. The kids filtered out the "umm, that's not how you do it," and preened at the praise.
Miss B made her Robo-Minnie-Mouse while Z went for something more like a cute version of the Bad Robot logo :

Luke and I both decided to make robots that could stand up. This involved a bit more frustration than initially hoped, and a lot of snapped mint Matchsticks.

Obviously the kids ate theirs the second they finished then divvied up mine between them.  I did snag a few cheeky mini Reeses peanut butter cups from the keen facilitator for myself though! 

Next we had a quick look for the little Cubebots hidden across the city centre.  I love these little fellows - they have a cute 50s vibe and I love the little LEDs inside that make them glow. Whenever we found a large Cubebot in a shop window we could go inside and claim a little Cubebot kit for myself. 

I'm a huge fan of Playful Leeds. I love the spirit of adventure and the willingness to gamble on an idea that motivates Emma and her team.  What kind of nutter decides to fill Leeds with 10,000 robots made by people of all ages and backgrounds? And then talks that idea up into funding and then reality?  My kind of nutter, that's who. And I want everyone else to throw himself into it too.

So, on our way through town I accosted anyone with a kid to say "Did you know you can make chocolate robots at a free activity for half term just over there? Your little 'un look just the right age to enjoy some building with chocolate." I tweeted about where we spotted the Cubebots and gave hints to anyone we saw clutching a Cubebot map. 

By the way,  one of the things I LOVE about my kids is that they're fine about having their mother do this stuff.  They are resigned that the downside of having a mum who finds out about all the cool stuff to do, is being there while that mum tells total strangers about it.  And buys the helpers coffees to say thanks.

After the Cubebot hunting we headed to the main event - the Minecraft party at the Leeds City Museum.  

What a party! It was a strange combination of very loud and rather quiet; excited movement and stillness (except for mouse clicks). A hall full of kids, tech and old school craft supplies all for one purpose - having fun. It was brilliant. 

In the centre of the room were tables full of kids playing Minecraft. Not a word from any of them - they were focussed on the  screen ahead.  

Around the perimeter were the activity stations - making Minecraft objects from Hama beads, cutting out and assembling Minecraft paper models, making masks, creating Doodlebots (if you hadn't done so in the Spring) or sewing with conductive thread to make quilt squares with LED lights.  This created the noise - kids chatting, laughing, shouting, showing off and asking questions. The combined impression was one of happy chaos.

The quilting woman, Hayley, very kindly let me have a go while the 3 kids were busy Minecrafting. It was remarkable stuff - as soft as flexible as normal thread. I'd love the chance to play with it again. However with my Works In Progress pile being as massive as it is, I daren't buy more supplies so I have managed not to click Buy It Now when I looked i up online.  It is Very Cool Indeed, though.

Thanks again, Leeds. You did your children proud

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