Between February 4 and February 19 we ran 10 events for our Safer Internet Festival in the Corsham area. Since the week coincided with Safer Internet Day, some of our events were focussed around online safety and privacy. Young people had told us they would like the chance to do fun and creative things with technology so we included some events which gave them these opportunities too. The video clip below gives you a short overview of the events.

We began the week by running basic digital skills workshops on email and social media with volunteers from Corsham School 6th form providing help and advice to members of the community. This gave attendees a chance to receive support with setting up and getting to grips with accounts on social media, including joining groups based around their interests. The volunteers from the 6th form were extremely professional and helpful at these events and the attendees left with all the knowledge and support they needed.  The library also put on a session which helped people learn how to use the digital library facilities such as renting e-books and audiobooks. These events gave the students a chance to share their knowledge and skills with older people in the community and helped to tackle issues such as loneliness and isolation.

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We ran sessions with two local youth groups Box Youth Club and Corsham Youth Zone. The sessions focussed on social media safety and involved them designing their own social network. The winners from Corsham Youth Zone created a child-friendly version of Tik-Tok with added protections for younger users. The winners from Box created a self-confidence app called Boost which raised the user’s self-esteem through short pep-talks and motivational messages shared between friends.

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The biggest event we ran was the Tech Showcase at Corsham Town Hall. We had a range of technology on display including 3D printers from Avon Engineering Systems, a huge, handmade drone from Team Bath Drones, Lego Mindstorms from St Patrick’s School, virtual reality from Corsham Institute and deconstructed computers and servers from our volunteer Richard Munn.  Students from local primary schools visited during the day and later in the afternoon we opened to the public. We had 168 attendees at the event and received very positive feedback from students, teachers and parents who found the event informative and inspirational.

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On Friday February 8 we attended the Rhyme Time session at Corsham Library. We chatted to a few parents to find out about their experiences of parenting in a digital world and provided them with leaflets from ParentZone and NSPCC which included information on how to help keep young people safe online.

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With the help of some very knowledgeable volunteers from Calne library we ran two Dr. Who themed Microbit workshops on Saturday February 9. Young people got the chance to program and create their own sonic screwdriver and one attendee even came dressed as the Doctor! Microbits (and books with lots of ideas for projects) can be rented from Corsham Library for three weeks at a time and almost everyone who came to the workshop went straight to the counter at the end so they could take their Microbit home!

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Throughout the week we also ran a competition for young people to create a community campaign or poster on the theme of consent online which was the topic of Safer Internet Day this year. This poster made by a student at Corsham Regis was the winner!

During half term we ran two workshops at Hartham Park. The first involved young people using Scratch to create their own maze game and the second enabled young people to create their own artificial intelligence chatbot using the Python programming language. Both workshops also included a chance for young people to try out virtual reality. During these sessions it was great to see so many young people engaging and having fun with technology as well as learning lots of new skills. Both Scratch and Python can be used at home for free and the majority of young people took the help sheets home to carry on their programs.

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From the feedback we have gathered we will establish how we can move the programme forward in the community with other events. One opportunity is to continue to run basic skills workshops, and we will also be starting an app club at Corsham School after half term. When we have collated all the data and feedback we gathered at the events we will publish this in another post so watch this space.