This year, BETT was all about the small things – simple projects that students can get stuck straight into, small bots, small enterprises. All small but lovely. The Microsoft hosted maker space was full of free-form projects like the articulated hand made from straws but coded in Arduino; Pi corner gets more inspirational every year; the BBC microbit activities; Ozobots, Chickbots, floor bots of every shape and size (and price) all caught the eye.
The Git Hub Education stand was eye-catching and excellent, staffed with enthusiastic and helpful youngsters, who team-tagged all day presenting introductory tutorials in their tiny cool ‘schoolroom’ booth. Any teacher launching in to teaching CS next September in Ireland, get yourself and your students signed up immediately.
The Google stand was mobbed, mainly with people inquiring about Chromebooks, and with enthusiasts (mea culpa) having a go with the new $10 stylus.
The other fab section was that with the small educational software stands, many run by sole traders or tiny business. I went to find Pobble (I’d met founder Simon at Practical Pedagogies in November), and I was not disappointed – this is a super idea for getting children’s writing out to audience that will give them meaningful feedback. Primary teachers – have a look.
The other stand I could’t miss was the Entreprenaws app for teaching children about business, fronted with enthusiasm and grace by Irishman Dylan McCarthy. Although I haven’t a business oriented bone in my none, he had me making and selling smoothies to puppies within minutes – maybe I’ll be rich yet. Dylan is a truly great ambassador for Ireland in the UK education system.
The Excel centre didn’t seem as annoyingly noisy this year; and though it wasn’t terrific, the wifi was better than last year’s debacle. As ever, the highlight of the visit to BETT is meeting friends from near and far. Where else would you see a Friday morning entrance greeting like this one from Lisa Stevens?
Thanks to the “BETT Fellowship” of CESI & ICTEDU travellers – Pamela, Adrienne, Hassan and John – for the wonderful company, at the conference, on the tube and DLR, around the city. (Remaining sterling coins already stashed for next year; first one to spot the cheap flights to the East End, shout out!).