Mozilla Festival 2019 – Youth Zone needs your sessions!

This year, the Mozilla festival is once again returning around the Autumn half-term. This year’s festival is taking place on the 26th-27th October, at Ravensbourne College, London.

The Call for Proposals is open from 1st June – 1st August 2019 and Youth Zone needs your amazing sessions!

What is Mozfest?

Mozfest is a tech conference/festival hosted by Mozilla, featuring over 300 sessions, 2,500+ attendees and over 500 facilitators.

The festival is split up into a number of different “Spaces”, of which one is the Youth Zone.

Families busy in the Makerspace

What is the Youth Zone?

The Youth Zone is a space dedicated to young people and the young at heart! We focus very heavily on hands on activities/workshops and have had everything in the past number of years from workshops carrot clarinets to unicorn horns to bird-boxes.

We also focus on giving young people the opportunity to run their own sessions. This is why on average we accept around 50% of our sessions each year, from young people. In the past, we have accepted sessions run by facilitators as young as 10!

The formal space description this year is the following…
Mission Brief: Join us on an adventure to create the future of the internet.
A space for young people and those young at heart to make, to code, and to discuss things they are passionate about. We will explore our skills, showcase talented youth, discover how computers make smart choices, and help inspire everyone to make better decisions about their use of the internet and wider technology.

Embark with us on a voyage of hands-on activities, lightning talks, art installations, and outright wacky workshops. We welcome onboard a cosmic crew made up from a mixture of planets and species.

SET your phasers to FUN.

Getting hands on with electronics and coding

What types of sessions are we looking for?

This of course is the big question… What type of sessions are we looking for at this years festival?
Before we can answer this question, it is probably best to describe the physical areas in Youth Zone.

  • The Makerspace – An experiment in 2018 (and returning in 2019), a room filled with scrap/cardboard/LEDs/batteries/lots of other arts/craft supplies!
    This space suits hands on maker workshops.
  • The laptop labs – These rooms are kitted out with a collection of laptops. This works well for activities that run in the web. Installing software is a little more difficult, but chances are we can make it work! Laptop sessions from 2018.
  • The Raspberry Pi lab – This room is kitted out with Raspberry Pis. You can run workshops involving physical computing/electronics, general coding etc in this lab. Raspberry Pi sessions from 2018.
  • Large discussion room – A large room set aside for big group based discussions. Although we generally aren’t looking for up front talks/lectures, if you have a super exciting topic that involves a hands on aspect, this room would fit that. Large discussion room sessions from 2018.
  • Small discussion rooms – These rooms are perfect for smaller 5-10 people discussions on a topic. Small discussion room sessions from 2018.
  • The prototyping space – A large space up on the 9th floor with lasercutters/3D printers/plenty of other digital fabrication equipment. In general, we only accept sessions using the lasercutters, unless in special circumstances. Prototyping space sessions from 2018.

So what types of sessions then?

We are looking for

  • Hands on makerspace workshops (think making a musical instrument from a carrot… Or perhaps make something amazing that is craft themed?
  • Coding workshops for kids – This is usually our most popular batch of workshops each year. To be accepted, they need to be fun, engaging and hands on! The full list can be found here.
  • Prototyping space workshops – Specifically workshops making good use of the lasercutters. For example.
  • Discussion workshops – Workshops on tech topics for young people. That could be e-safety to youth online privacy to “gamestorming” for example. The theme this year is all around machine decision making, could you do a discussion/workshop for kids on that topic?
  • Installations – We are looking for hands on / techy installations for the young people to engage with. For example.

As well as all these sessions above, the festival theme this year is “Healthy AI”. We are really excited to see what ideas you all have on how we can make understanding AI / Machine Learning accessible to young people. More details about the theme can be found here.

Building games in Scratch

I have a crazy session idea!

Fantastic! Head over to the Call for Proposals page and get it submitted!

Building musical instruments out of… Butter tubs…

I have a question?

We can give a go at answering it. Simply send us over an email at youthzone at

Mozfest 2018 – Only 24 hours to go of the CfP!

Call for Proposals ->>>

With the Mozilla Festival (Mozfest) Call for Proposals closing in just a few days away (it closes on 1st August 2018 at 6pm PST), I have had a flurry of last minute questions so I thought I would throw together a quick post for this year for what we are looking for.

First off, a brief introduction. I am one of the Wranglers for YouthZone, the section of the festival that is there to provide young people with a platform to get involved with the festival, learn and teach others. The festival takes place in London at Ravensbourne College on the 27th/28th October.
I will also start by saying usually over half of our sessions are lead by young people (with the youngest to date being 12). This is not to say we are not also looking for adults to lead sessions for young people, but we do give young people submitting sessions priority (sorry adults!)

Building a Naturebytes camera project at Mozfest

  1. So what might you submit a session on then?…
    This is the important one, isn’t it? Well, we are looking for any techy topic. Perhaps this could be a coding workshop, perhaps it could be a discussion on how the benefits and issues of social media or even a talk on on how the internet works (maybe not the whole internet…)
    There is a very wide range of topics that you could run a session on. We generally though split them up into 3 types
    – Learning forums – Basically discussions/talks.
    – Galleries – Installations/exhibits that last usually longer than a single session.
    – Shed – Hands on workshops.For shed sessions, we will have at least 1 Raspberry Pi computer lab (if not 2 labs) available (along with accompanying hardware like Microbits/lots of HATs) so are always looking for sessions that make use of that equipment. Do keep in mind though we don’t have a lab of laptops/iPads (and attendees don’t always bring a device of their own).
  2. How long is a session?
    In general a session at Mozfest is an hour, but sometimes a little longer and sometimes a little shorter. A “gallery” installation generally may last a full day or even the full weekend.
  3. How many people would be in my session?
    This hugely depends on the type of session. For discussions, we usually will only have a max of maybe 10 people. For coding/making workshops, there might be up to 30 people. If you would prefer to do your workshop for a certain number (or have a particular limit), just let us know and we will see what we can do.
  4. What age attendees should I expect?
    This one is a bit of a tough one… The most common ages are the 8-15 bracket, but it is possible you end up with younger or older. Remember adults are allowed to attend YouthZone workshops as well.
  5. How many sessions run over the weekend in YouthZone?
    We usually have anywhere from 40-60 sessions that are selected and run over the Saturday/Sunday in YouthZone alone, across up to 10 different physical spaces on our floor.
  6. I would love to submit a session and come along, but I can’t afford it…
    We understand getting to and staying in London for a weekend can be expensive. So as part of the process, it is possible to request a travel/accommodation stipend if you need it. This can be applied for as part of the submission process.
    As well, with YouthZone we usually run a separate programme for young people from the UK where using one of our official Mozilla stipends wouldn’t make sense.
    We do though only have a very limited number of stipends available so we can’t guarantee we can provide you with one of course.
  7. I have more questions!?!?!?
    Great! If you want to take a look at the sessions we accepted last year to get some rough ideas, they can be found here –
    If you have further questions though, feel free to leave a comment below or drop me a tweet.

Call for Proposals ->>>

It’s not just kids in YouthZone!

Hacking Mozfest Wrangling

For those unaware, for the past 3 years now I have been involved in the Mozilla Festival over in London, specifically with the YouthZone. In 2016 and 2017 I have been a “Wrangler” for the space. This role involves selecting sessions from submissions, working with them over the next few months and finally then putting it all together for a weekend at the end of October.

This year at Mozfest, due to a number of different factors, I ended up taking on a lot more of the administration for Youth Zone than previous years.
This post is an overview of how we hacked away at this process, automating as much of it as possible.

Overall, there is a lot of administrative work loaded onto wranglers of the festival. In our case, 60 sessions with a combined total of 140+ facilitators made everything from communication to scheduling a target for automation.

Where we started

Before getting into how I ended up hacking the process further, lets first look at some of the underlying building blocks of curating the festival.

Overall, over 800 sessions were put forward. To put a session forward, a potential faciliator simply fills in a form on the Mozfest website asking plenty of different details for their session. Once they hit submit, a public Github Issue is created and the facilitator is emailed with details of how they can use this system.

It is a great way of making use of Github’s system as it provides a mechanism for having a public conversation with the potential facilitator using the comments, while also using the extremely powerful milestone/label system to categorise the sessions.

As well as the public Github issue, there is also a row in the master spreadsheet in behind that includes the private information like the facilitators email address etc. This spreadsheet can only be accessed by wranglers and the production team.

So at this stage, we are here, a Github repository full of issues, each with a milestone (the primary session it has been submitted to) and some labels (including secondary space, language etc), with a spreadsheet in behind with the other information.



The next step for myself and my fellow wranglers was selecting the sessions we liked the sound of to accept, in general we finished most of this by the start of September. To mark sessions we had accepted, we simply created a label and attached this to each of the sessions we were accepting.

Information collection

Once we knew the sessions we wanted to accept, we reached out to each primary facilitator with an email asking them to fill in the additional YouthZone admin form. This form included a number of questions extra including which days they could make it to the festival to run their session, DBS checks (UK police background checks) and if travel/accommodation assistance was required.

For all our forms, we used Google forms given it would feed directly into Google Sheets.

On top of this admin form, throughout the process we also had additional forms for DBS information, pizza preferences and accommodation parents details.

Alongside these Google forms, we also used a custom Google Script based form for uploading of files like worksheets/resources. Each item submitted adds a row to a Google Sheet, while also uploading the file itself to a Google Drive folder and adding a direct link to the spreadsheet.

One of our custom Google Script based forms for uploading worksheets to be printed.


Once the selection was complete, it was time to look at scheduling. At this point (sometime in September), we weren’t aware of Guidebook (the system used in the end for the schedule app at the festival), but wanted to get started with scheduling sessions.

In Youth Zone, we have 10 individual areas/rooms that sessions can run in and 11 available time slots. In previous years, Dorine (my co-wrangler) had scheduled simply using Post-It-Notes on a whiteboard while I had used tables in Google Docs with links back to the Github Issues. Although both these methods worked, they were far from ideal… Both worked fine for the initial scheduling, but feel apart if any major changes needed made.

So I proposed an experiment to Dorine, what about trying Github Projects?
For those unaware, Github Projects is a Kanban Board style system that allows columns where either issues/pull requests or “cards” can be placed. The huge advantage over other options like Trello though is as it is a Github system, it understands the initial Github Issues themselves, of which each session is one of.

We were able to use pretty complex search filters to find the required Issues and place them into room columns on the board. A perfect feature in Github Projects for us was that an Issue is removed from available Issues if it is added to the board, meaning we could make sure we had every session scheduled somewhere. For repeating sessions, we simply added the links to the Issues into cards.

Duplicate sessions could be added easily by just adding the URL into a text card, Github then showed the referenced issue below the card.

Next step though was as Issues/Cards have different widths based on the number of labels etc, I put together a simple Flask based app to pull the data from Github and display it in an HTML table.

As can be seen in this image, the cards themselves don’t line up across, so another solution was needed to render them.

Although building the Flask app was pretty simple, actually getting the data out of Github was another story.
Github have 2 APIs, version 3 (REST based) and version 4 (GraphQL based). After a recommendation from the fantastic Joe, I went for version 4 using GraphQL.

GraphQL is a really interesting way of doing an API, it allows you to ask for lots of different bits of information in a tiered way using a single API call.

At first though, although the amount of Github documentation for the GraphQL API is large, there is little documentation on how to implement it outside of the GraphQL explorer. For someone with little API querying experience in general, I found figuring out how to move my query over to Python challenging. In the end though, after a few evenings of tinkering I came across the required parameters/formatting needed to get to work with my query. An example using this written in Python 3 is below.

So next, I needed to get the actual information from the Github Project so I could display it in a more visually useful way.

The result was the following query

organization(login: "MozillaFoundation") {
  repository(name: "mozfest-program-2017") {
    project(number: 1) {
      columns(first: 30) {
        edges {
          node {
            cards(first: 10) {
              nodes {
                content {
                  ... on Issue {

The query pulls back from the mozfest-program-2017 repository, our project (number 1), followed by all the columns, then all the cards in each column, then if the card is actually an issue (the … on Issue syntax), also include some more details and any labels the issue has attached to it.

Although perhaps a little overkill, that query returns over 100,000 characters (mainly because it includes the descriptions). This though is something that would have required many REST API calls, but can instead be done with a single GraphQL call.

The result is then the results from the query are fed into a simple and pretty rough looking HTML table.

Once I had all the data from the API, it was then as simple as firing up a VM in the cloud with a Flask app displaying the data in a pretty rough looking HTML table. Although I have no doubt this could have looked a heck of a lot nicer with some more CSS, it served the needed purpose of showing all the data is rows/columns, allowing us to build a rough schedule.

Catching mistakes

The next progression for this simple Flask app was using it to catch mistakes.
With 60 sessions, it is very easy to make simple mistakes like scheduling a session on the Sunday, when the facilitator can only make the Saturday for example.

To combat this, I put together a separate piece of Python code that went through each response to the YouthZone admin form used the URL to the session provided and added a label on Github of either Saturday only, Sunday only, either but only one day and either/both days.
Unfortunately there is no GraphQL API call for adding labels to issues just yet, so this one had to be done using the old v3 REST API.

This now meant that nearly all sessions now had a “day they could run” label attached. Although this was then easy enough to check the label and schedule accordingly, it could be taken a step further so I added a little more Python code to the Flask app to change colour based on if scheduling mistakes were made. For example, if a facilitator said they could only make it on Saturday and we scheduled their session on Sunday by mistake, the session would flag up orange. This saved us from 2-3 mistakes at least, which would have involved very last minute changes if we hadn’t caught them so early.


By the end of September, we had a rough schedule ready to go and the Mozfest production team informed wranglers the plan was to use a new 3rd party system this year, Guidebook.

Guidebook is a well thought out system for building festival programmes, venue guides etc with a web based builder and auto updating IOS/Android apps along with a web app as well.

Once we had access to Guidebook, I started looking for an API to directly interact with it. Unfortunately at the time of writing this, there is still no API for Guidebook. This presented an issue for us as we had all our scheduling information in a Github Project which had systems querying it already thanks to Githubs great API. So we had 2 options

  1. Import all of our session data into Guidebook, manually add the times/locations to each session and kill off the Github Project. This though means nothing else can access the schedule data outside of Guidebook itself.
  2. Work out some other way to keep our primary source of “truth” outside of Guidebook and sync it in (given there was no way to get the data out of Guidebook).

I decided to dig into option 2 and after chatted with the excellent Guidebook support team, we concluded the built in calendar sync tool might be an option.

Guidebook includes an option to sync sessions from a calender feed (ICS format), then populate these sessions into a selected track and do this every 2 hours.
This brought with it a few problems though

  1. We could no longer use the built in system for sharing a link from Guidebook to a facilitator to allow them to edit their session details (title, description etc) themselves.
  2. We couldn’t use some of the more fancy Guidebook features like attaching a facilitator bio to a session or adding files.

Editing session details

Guidebook’s built in system for allowing facilitators to edit their session details. This needed replicated over to our system if we wanted to work outside of Guidebook.

To make this calender option at least a viable solution, we needed a way to allow facilitators to edit their session details themselves, as in a majority of cases their session had slightly changed one way or another since they submitted it. For each of the other spaces, they used the built in collaboration link in each Guidebook session to send that link out to the facilitators involved in a session so they could edit it themselves.

My answer to this? Simply build a copy (with a little less CSS again).

Primary facilitators could use the above form for their session to edit the title/description.

I added some random UIDs to the end of a copy of the overall session submission spreadsheet and put together a quick Python 3 script using the Google Sheets API (and library) to email out to each primary facilitator this magic link that would allow them to edit their session.
When a user of the web system enters a URL that matches a set pattern, the Python code goes and searches for that UID in the spreadsheet. If it finds it, it returns a page with all the information ready to be edited. If it doesn’t find it, it simply returns an error page.

Building a calendar

The final step needed for getting our schedule in Github Pages over to Guidebook was building a calendar for Guidebook to keep an eye on. For this, we used Google Calender and the Google Calender API.

Every so often in the process leading up to the festival, I would run this script that would update any sessions that had had details (times, location, title, description etc) changed. Guidebook would then pull in these changes every 2 hours (or immediately if manually fiddled with).

The auto generated calendar feed for Saturday with each session, along with its location.

Out solution at this stage worked, but had some issues.

  1. All the columns from the Github Project were being used to generate calendar entries, including the columns with time slot information and some columns that were just for information.
  2. The system had no answer for all day sessions or sessions outside those fixed time blocks.

The answer to both problems? A set of symbols to include in the column titles on Github Projects.

Note the symbols added to the columns, for example an # signifies this is a time block column and a @ signifies ignore this column.

As well as using # and @, anything inside brackets was ignored for room details and simply left as a note for us.

As well as those symbols, we also added all day long sessions into a column marked with (!all-day).

Overall, this allowed us to schedule sessions for a full day, along with include more information in the column title (for us when planning), but still have it pull the exact room name from the column title.


The final piece in our admin puzzle was making sure we had enough people helping out in each session. This was mainly important for the hands on workshops etc, as they needed plenty of helpers at the side.

In previous years, facilitators just put their names down in a separate column in the Google doc. This year though I was keen to find a better and more automated solution.
The answer in the end was building a system that sat on top of the schedule viewer. Like with the editing session details section, I added a unique ID into another column in our admin form spreadsheet, then emailed that unique edit link out to everyone. This unique link allows them “logged in” access to the volunteer signup page.

Each volunteer was sent a custom unique link to the volunteer system.

The volunteer system allowed facilitators to click on a session they wanted to help with, it would then change to blue to signify they were signed up to help at it. The session blocks then changed colour based on how much they were still in need of people to help with.

The result of this was we knew on Friday afternoon / Saturday morning which sessions didn’t already have people offering to help at them and could ask facilitators who hadn’t used the system, to help in those specific sessions.

As well as signing up, facilitators could also click “show info” on each session and see who was already signed up to help.


To conclude

Organising a festival is hard. It takes a team of people a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to make it all run like clockwork. For a festival the scale of Mozfest with 2000 attendees and 450 facilitators overall, automation is critical to avoid the team burning out, especially when a majority of the Wranglers involved with the festival are volunteers.

I am a big fan of the openness around the Mozilla Festival using Github as the base for the information initially. I think it is a very creative idea that in practice does actually work well.
The fact that the entire selection process for the festival is done in public and in the open is something I have not seen many other conferences do and is something I feel they could learn from.

Is the process perfect? No, by no means! But the availability of the excellent Github API allows for the process to be extended even further than it currently is. With YouthZone, we were only reaching the tip of the iceberg of what could be done to automate the processes of the festival.

So I hope the breakdown of how we “hacked” the running of the festival this year, can serve as a springboard for building better tools and processes for next years festival, to avoid the hundreds of hours wasted unnecessary each year by Wranglers on repetitive and easy-to-make-mistakes-in tasks.
All this to allow the Wranglers to do what they do best, wrangler their spaces!

Northern Ireland Raspberry Jam – A Year In Review (2016-2017)

Well, it has certainly been quite a year for the Northern Ireland Raspberry Jam!
For those unaware, the Northern Ireland Raspberry Jam is a volunteer run group of primarily students, that organises free. monthly events for young people and adults in Northern Ireland interested in technology.
This year, we formally defined the purpose of the group and its activities as

“The purpose of the Northern Ireland Raspberry Jam is to further the advancement of education of both young people and adults across Northern Ireland in the field of Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Maths, Physics and related subjects. This is achieved through family friendly events for the public (Raspberry Jams), 1 to 1 mentoring for young people and programmes for educators including school teachers and parents.”

The Year in Numbers

This past year (July 2016 – June 2017), as a team we have

  • Been involved in 15 events across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.
  • Engaged with  over 5000 people, a majority of which were young people.
  • Had 500+ attendees our 11 Raspberry Jam events. Of those 500 attendees, roughly 40% (200) were girls.
  • Has grown from a team of 8, to 21 volunteers!
  • Has contributed 1500 volunteer hours!
  • As a Jam, eaten over 600 doughnuts, 200 brownies and 150 cupcakes.
  • Volunteer team have wired up well over 10,000m of cabling in total and built up a stock of well over 1,500m of different cables.
  • Moved from our single room at Farset Labs, to the Queens University Maths and Physics Teaching Centre. By the June 2017 Jam, we ran Pis set up in 4 different rooms, running with x80 Raspberry Pis and x9 workshops.
  • Met 1 astronaut!

Highlights of the year

As a team, we agree it has certainly been a fantastic year. Alongside our x10 normal Jams (September-June), we also took part in a number of other special events. Below are a few of these highlights.

Dublin Maker – July 2016

Fantastic group of volunteers for Dublin Maker!

The main Jam team, plus a few awesome Jam attendees headed down to Dublin on the 23rd July 2016. Throughout the day, they interacted with over 1800 people with 1400+ DOTs boards filled in by attendees.

The team were swamped the entire event, with a number of occasions there being sizeable queues. That was even with us having one of the largest stalls (a triple stall) of the day. Our youngest attendee taking part was 2, while our oldest was 80+.

Destination Space – October 2016

In October, the W5 education team invited a small group of the Jam team down to W5 for the day to help out with the Destination Space event, which British Astronaut Tim Peake was attending. The event was attended by 150+ school children from across Northern Ireland. The team ran the DOTs board activity, using the secret rocket Easter Egg, along with getting kids exploring the Sense HATs.

At the end, Hannah and Alex got a great conversation with Tim on the Astro Pi project and how he had used it while on the International Space Station.

The Move – February 2017

The new home for the Northern Ireland Raspberry Jams

In February, after 6+ months of planning/discussion with the Queens University School of Mathematics and Physics , we moved the main venue of the Northern Ireland Raspberry Jam from the awesome Farset Labs, over to the much larger Queens University Maths and Physics Teaching Centre.

Some of the team braving the February weather on parking duty

The new venue includes x2 fully kitted out IT labs with x70 machines, x3 classrooms (2 of which we set up as small Pi rooms each month) and x2 lecture theatres, along with a large open foyer area for the break. Beyond a few initial cabling hiccups, we still somehow managed to pull off a successful pilot event, enough that the university allowed us to stick around. Since April 2017, we have been able to offer 100+ tickets for each Jam thanks to the much larger venue.

The new venue has also allowed us the space to run “lightning talks” in the break. These 7 minute so far have ranged from the Rosetta Mission, to how Cloud Chambers work to how to build your own Rubiks cube solving robot! This is something we plan to greatly expand in the coming year.

The first pilot Jam in February 2017 at the new venue

The Northern Ireland Science Festival special Jam

The junior volunteers ran their first workshop with a little help from Aoibheann.

For the first time, we ran 2 Raspberry Jams in the space of 1 month. The extra Jam was a special Jam as part of the Northern Ireland Science Festival. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to meet new people, brought in via help with marketing from the Science Festival team.

Having far too much fun with Sonic Pi at the Science Festival Jam

Coderdojo Coolest Projects – June 2017

The final event for the team of the year, was Coderdojo Coolest Projects which took place on the 17th June, 2017 down in Dublin. The team had well over 700 DOTs boards completed by the Ninjas and parents, with feedback being fantastic as usual. The team were inundated all day, with rather long queues commonplace for their stall.

The Team

The team in April 2017

The team this year has grown significantly, from 8 volunteers in June 2016, to now over 20! A core principle of the Jam has been not only providing opportunities for the attendees, but also to invest in the volunteer team. A majority of the team are 18 or under, with our youngest being 14. These young folk have given up a combined total of well over 1500 hours of their time to make these events happen. When you consider that number, 1500 hours, that is a colossal number for a bunch of young folk who have completely different interests and passions, yet share a passion for inspiring other young folk in the fields of Maths, Physics, Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

A few have admitted that being involved with the Raspberry Jam has immensely boosted their confidence in public speaking and engagement, while also completely changing what they want to do in the future towards STEM subjects!

To Conclude

It has been one heck of a year! For a group started almost by mistake 3 years ago, to have come on this far and be engaging with 5000+ people in the space of 12 months, while giving up over 1500 hours of their time for free all run off a shoestring budget, is quite something.

I am extremely proud and honoured to get to work with such a talented bunch of young folk to provide opportunities for tomorrows Makers, Inventors and Tinkerers to learn and thrive in a safe and fun environment here in Northern Ireland.
None of this would be possible without them.

We have even bigger plans for the year ahead, so bring on 2017/2018!

Andrew Mulholland – NI Raspberry Jam Coordinator

Attendees from each of the 11 Raspberry Jams run this year.

Mozfest 2016

This year once again, I was involved with the Mozilla Festival on the final weekend of October 2016. This year, I was (somehow) persuaded to be a Space Wrangler, alongside Dorine Flies.


The planning process for us started back in May, when along with the other Space Wranglers and Mozilla staff, we traveled to Berlin for a long weekend planning retreat.

While in Berlin, we planned out how we wanted the YouthZone to pan out and started discussing the types of sessions we would love to nab for the space. We also had many interesting conversations with other Wranglers on possible collaborations at the festival.

Festival lead up

Over the next few months in the lead up to the festival, the call for proposals opened and we received well over 100 session proposals. We had painful task of then whittling those down to just over 60 sessions for the weekend. This entire process was done in the open online via the festival proposals Github repository.


The Friday of the festival was the setup and facilitator training day.
At it, we had about 45+ of our fantastic YouthZone facilitators.

The first part of the morning was facilitator training, provided by Mozilla.
After this, all the spaces split off to their respective floors. We got everyone from the YouthZone together and went over specific details for the weekend.

After lunch, we started the logistical nightmare of setting up 64 Raspberry Pis across 2 Pi labs!

Vincent busy doing the initial equipment inventory.
Vincent busy doing the initial equipment inventory.

So many PiTops!
So many PiTops!

The setup process, although a very complex one, was completed in a few hours thanks to help from the large army of volunteers.

The result was a main classroom featuring 38 PiTop Ceeds and a smaller classroom featuring 26 DVI monitors (from Computer Aid International). The entire setup made use of Raspberry Pi 3s (provided by PiTop and Raspberry Pi Foundation), a wired network (with a little help from Ravensbourne and NI Raspberry Jam) and to top it all off, running the next experimental PiNet Jessie.

Bawar running final tests on PiTops
Bawar running final tests on PiTops

Along with setup, some of the team spent the afternoon creating the posters to plaster around the Ravensborune.

We also had the laser team (headed up by Amy Mather) upstairs on the 9th floor getting their lasercutting workshops ready for the weekend.


The festival officially opened on Saturday morning, with the team down for 8am (something that didn’t go down very well earlier when they were told they needed to be down by then).

Throughout the day, the Raspberry Pi volunteer team ran 12 workshops from Dave Hones’s “Code in Space” workshop to 12 year old Elise’s “Spooktacular Sonic Pi” workshop and Femi/Nic’s fantastic Crumble robot workshop!

Frank-Pi Pi-group



In parallel to the Pi workshops, we also had Cat Dunicliff running her VR workshops using kit on loan from Google Expeditions team.



Then, up on the 9th floor, throughout Saturday, Amy Mather and her team ran a series of lasercutting beginners workshops.


Laser-example Amy-laser-kid Amy-laser-laughing

On the Saturday evening, 35 celebrated the success over pizza! Unfortunately due to a minor mixup with the restaurant, we ended up split across 2 of the restaurants across London. Will say though, Franco Mancas pizza was excellent.

"My pizza has arrived!" - Cerys (with slightly tired Amy)
“My pizza has arrived!” – Cerys
(with slightly tired Amy)

Pizza-2 Pizza3


On the Sunday morning, the team had a little longer of a lie in, with them all arriving for 9am.

Once again, we had another fantastic set of workshops with Raspberry Pi based workshops ranging from Edublocks by Josh, Scratching stuff from your kitchen by Aoibheann and automatic twitter powered photobooth by Vincent/Sam.

Amy and the lasercutting team continued another 2 lasercutting workshops on the Sunday and Cat was joined by Pietro from Google to run some Google Expeditions workshops.



Mozfest has been a fantastic journey, starting right back in May, up to now. We have already started discussions for 2017.

Myself and Dorine set out from the start with the mission to provide youth (and the young at heart) the opportunity to learn new skills and discover exciting new technology. We set out to widen what the attendees (especially kids) thought was possible and provide them with opportunities to see that hands on.
These are going to be the digital innovators of tomorrow!

Alongside this mission, we had a 2nd, less shouted about mission. We wanted to provide opportunities and build up the skills/confidence of our amazing volunteer team. Over half of the sessions run at YouthZone were lead by youth. Our youngest facilitator this year at Mozfest was only 10! Of those youth, a majority had never given a proper workshop to a group of complete strangers.
We gave them this opportunity in a safe space, always with someone with a little more experience on hand, just in case. The feedback from them all has been amazing and I am pretty confident we will have over 90% of this years team, applying again to run sessions next year.

Personally, I feel we accomplished both of these over the weekend. There are of course numerous things we could have done better, but on the whole, I think we didn’t do half badly.


To pull off 25 Raspberry Pi based workshops, 4 Google Cardboard workshops and 5 lasercutting workshops, required a heck of a lot of help.

First, I want to say a huge thanks to the army of volunteers that got thrown together over the past few months. Although they all already know it, it is worth saying again… You guys were all awesome! Well over 45 of them showed up over the weekend and were given jobs ranging from lifting monitors, to wrapping cables to counting the exact number of crocodile clips at the end to creating 30+ posters!

The other big thanks I want to make is to our fantastic partners. They provided equipment and staff to make whole thing logistically possible. These include (in no particular order)