The kids’ music and computing hackathon that Sandbox Education ran for us was one of the most engaging events we’ve had. They had clearly put a lot of thought into their offer, and managed to pull together our exhibition and the overarching theme with really concrete and accessible projects for kids. The results were creative, and all the participants (including our team!) had a great time.

Ada Lovelace
The Bodleian
University of Oxford

On Saturday 5 December 2015, the Bodleian Libraries, Centre for Digital Scholarship hosted a Mini-Hackathon for children and teens run by Sandbox Education.

The workshop celebrated Ada Lovelace and her interests in computing and music.

The students designed, made and coded innovative electronic musical instruments. It was sold out well in advance.

Music Tech Workshop

Assemble the Hardware

Parents were invited to drop off hackers aged 11-16 in the morning and return at 12.30pm to see the workshop results.

Hackers built one of our music tech prototypes: Notes and Scales, Digital Drum Kit, Illumiphone, Frequency Modulator and Sound Scratcher.

Install the Software

The hackers followed our step by step specially written guide to install the Arduino and Processing IDEs and code Libraries.

They uploaded Sketches to the Arduino to control how the Arduino responded to input from Tinkerkit sensors.

We were on hand to help out when needed!

Craft the Interface

The hackers designed and crafter a tangible interface with Sugru, cardboard boxes and cups, paper straws, tape and glue.

Hack the instrument

The hackers explored the Processing code by reading comments written into each section of the Sketches

The comments explain how the code worked and gave advice to the hackers to make changes to see how they changed the sound of their instruments.

The Instruments

Sound Scratcher’ that played two loops of music and allowed speed and volume to be controlled via sensor input with virtual turntables.

An Illumiphone and Sensiphone that played six tones at fixed pitches with volume controlled via input from sensors

A frequency modulator that played a single tone and allowed them to control pitch and timbre via input from sensors

A drum kit which played six percussive tones triggered via touch sensors

Notes and scales tool played an octave (eight notes) from a musical scale selected in the code and controlled by sensors that change pitch and volume

Lovelace Interactive Workshop

Ada Artworks

Taking inspiration from the Weston Library’s display about the life of Ada LoveLace, the young hackers designed and prototyped musical instruments with tangible user interfaces TUI.

Making circuits powered by capitative sensing code they went on to transform touch into sound.

Design the Prototype

They designed Ada-related artworks with conductive paint to create electronic circuits.

With wires and crocodile clips they linked up the electronic circuits connected to the digital Touch Board made by Bare Conductive.

Sound Installation

After recording or sourcing sound files online, they uploaded mp3s to the Touch Boards powering the interactive touch captive instruments.

Touching elements of the paint circuits linked to sounds they created soundscapes and performances

Everyone had great fun learning coding, physical computing, music participation and team work.

The instruments created included a magical flying horse inspired by Ada Lovelace’s desire to fly as a child, wheels and cogs from the Analytical Engine, and a human clarinet.