Getting kids excited about Computer Science in Northern Ireland

The following is a combined position paper and call-to-action for a project that many of us have been working on behind the scenes for a long time now, especially Andrew Mulholland who’s taken over the operation of the Raspberry Jam programme.

Andrew and I collaborated on this document to put forward our plans for a school outreach programme built on the experience we’ve gained from running the Jam programme in Belfast for the past two years, including a collaboration between Farset Labs, Digital Circle and W5 that brought teachers together from across the province to share best practice for ICT education, as well as receiving our ‘wisdom’ from running CoderDojo and Jam-like programmes. This programme was assessed DCAL and was very well received but due to personnel changes in some relevant organisations, has not been directly carried on as a full pilot programme.

We hope to change that, and thanks in part to Andrew’s recent successes at the TalkTalk Digital Hero awards, as well as working over the summer with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we’ve secured match funding up to £4,000 to support the proposed programme.

But we need your help to drum up the rest of our estimated £8,000 programme costs, and hopefully this document will help. Have a read at our thoughts, and Andrew and I are more than happy to answer any questions, concerns or ideas about the proposed programme.

EDIT:

We’re happy to announce that The CultureTech Festival have pledged £1,000 towards this programme, as well as inviting us to participate in three events in the North West.

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Club Mate Buy In

This mate-extract based soft-drink has carved a niche in hacker- and maker culture across the globe, and now, Northern Ireland
This mate-extract based soft-drink has carved a niche in hacker- and maker culture across the globe, and now, Northern Ireland

Farset Labs is proud to announce that we will be the first people to bring the amazing Club Mate caffineated soft-drink to the hallowed shores of Northern Ireland.

This low-impact, all natural energy drink is renowned within hacker-culture across the globe (having powered the author through a 76 hour straight volunteer-fest at The Next HOPE without any crashes or heavy-buzzes…).

However, because noone else has imported it before, and we all know how painful it can be to get things delivered to Northern Ireland, we’re making a concerted effort to put in a big order to reduce per-crate delivery costs. As such, we’re inviting the community to buy in to our purchasing consortium at cost-price (rounded up…) on a per-crate level (£33 for 24x330ml, £35 for 20x500ml).

If you’re interested, just fill in THIS FORM. This buy-in is open to non-Farset members and to groups of people clubbing together to buy crates but we will not be selling by the bottle at this point.

Three Months In: Help Wanted

Farset is still here and still going strong post-exam/graduation season, which saw a large proportion of our membership (and directors) being very pressed for time.

Now it’s time to look back over three brilliant months, and to continue to grow in the future. In those three short months, Farset Labs has established itself as a top tech venue in Northern Ireland, and a ‘centre of awesomeness’ for education, knowledge sharing, and industry networking. We’ve been involved in the upcoming TechBritian launch, been listed as a Channel 4 Education space, ran more fantastic events than I’d care to mention, tore apart the building, played host to some of the premier local technology events, as well are representing the geek community at many ‘prestige‘ events.

We have plans in place to expand our work with other organisations, including Fab Labs, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the British Computing Society, among others,

Now we’ve made a bit of a name for ourselves, it’s time to rise to the desires of the community. We are currently in a state where Farset Labs is self-sustaining in terms of the space and bills etc, but to commit to any growth in terms of equipment and facilities, we need the support of the local technology community.

Things on our wishlist:

  • 30+ Stackable Conference Chairs, (Event Space)
  • 8 Folding Desks, (Event Space)
  • New Desks/Chairs for the hot desking space, to increase capacity to 26
  • Laptops/Desktops; need to be ‘recent’ but no requirement to be ‘State of the Art’, driving towards being used for CoderDojo and for a research cluster
  • Cloud Computing Time for members
  • Rack Mount machines for service provision for members
  • Electronics tools (Soldering irons, etc) [for boarduino event]
  • More storage (Shelving units, etc)
  • Lockers for members
  • Projectors
  • Whiteboards
  • Extension Leads / 4-gangs, etc

Anything (and we mean anything) else can usually be used for either spare parts or art! If you are in a position to donate or sponsor any of these things, don’t hesitate to drop in any time and say hello, or contact us at admin@farsetlabs.org.uk to chat about what we can do with your kit! All donations are announced online (at donors discression) and any donated kit can be labeled with your business / name. And if you can, please consider making a financial donation or joining as a corporate member.

Farset Labs has already managed to change the face of the technology community in Northern Ireland in just three months with nothing but goodwill. Imagine what we could do with your help.

And don’t forget that tonight we’re holding our FEAST/FAMINE movie-night event!

The All Island Software Network

AISNWe are very pleased to announce the generous support of yet another group, the All Island Software Network, a joint partnership between Intertrade Ireland, the Irish Software Association, and Momentum, the Trade Association for IT in Northern Ireland. They supply businesses across the whole island of Ireland with plentiful funding, advice, routes for cross-border relations and training to allow companies to innovate and be competitive in both jurisdictions. Continue reading The All Island Software Network