Hearts of STEM/Inclusive Creativity showcase workshop: Thursday 1st June 2017, 11:00 a.m. Cultúrlann

As part of the Walled City Music Festival, and HoSTEM – Inclusive Creativity: Digital Practices symposium, we have scheduled a showcase (show-stopper!) public workshop to be held in Cultúrlann (thanks to Peter O’Doherty) in Derry/Londonderry, starting at 11:00 a.m.

All ages, interests, skills and abilities welcome, from the very young:


to the young at heart(sofstem):


Meet and chat with experts:


Build fun, interactive and unusual instruments, and use simple yet effective apps for music-making:

And, thanks to HoSTEM and Garfield Weston Foundation, this workshop is FREE to attend. Register via email to heartsofstem@gmail.com

Hearts Of STEM Outreach workshops #4 and #5

The second week of our Inclusive Creativity/HeartsOfSTEM outreach workshops on interactive sound toys concluded with two workshops: one on Thursday May 25th, involving Denise White’s SEN group of young adults and other interested participants (Journalism student Maddie Siegmund, amongst others) in Foyle Arts Building, UU; the second, on Friday May 26th, took place in the Craft Village, courtesy of Inner City Trust’s Blane O’Donnell, and open to the general public. Many thanks to our team of expert facilitators: Danny Todd, Lewis Smith, Ryan Rodgers, Shane Byrne and Conor Teahan. And Dr Brendan McCloskey. This project was supported by Ulster University and funded by Garfield Weston. Inexhaustible support was also provided by Dr Brian Bridges, Prof Frank Lyons. And Sinead Grant!

The Thursday session offered students a ‘buffet’ of interfaces, tools and approaches: Ableton Live/Push for sequenced beats, sampling and effects; networked iPads, music apps, hardware sequencers and synthesizers; DIY sensors and sound-toys with Arduino and Pure Data, and fruits and vegetables with Makey Makey.

The bridesmaid of the event was, sadly for me, the Arduino platform. In a ‘mix-n-match’ scenario such as this, participants want instant gratification, and less circuit-building and coding, although some of the attendees were happy to sit and quickly build a conductive panel sensor for the Makey Makey:


The Craft Village is Derry’s hidden gem, halfway down Shipquay Street, offering a huge variety of craft shops, cafe’s and restaurants run by artisan entrepreneurs. The canopied courtyard offered an idyllic setting for our final public workshop. Before we had even finished our set up, an SEN group from Carndonagh Community School, Donegal, wandered in and promised to return later that afternoon. In the interim, several small young families took great delight in playing the ‘bananio’, as it became known, as did a small group of engineering professors from Bangor, Co Down:

Again, the Makey Makey was the star of the show, as was the Launchpad app (running on an iPad), causing a spontaneous outburst of very energetic break-dancing! Images and videos from the Carndonagh group will be posted online following clearance from the school authorities.

All told, this was a fun, relaxed and highly interactive end to the series, on a baking hot day in the centre of Derry.

(Note to self: an external library exists for the Makey, allowing all triggers to be remapped (within the Arduino IDE), offering more sophisticated gesture control of, for example PD or Supercollider).

Inclusive Creativity/Hearts of STEM 2017 free workshop series closing soon

The Inclusive Creativity: Digital Practices and Hearts of STEM outreach workshop series is coming to a close, but there are still places and times to get involved!

Visit our free workshops and experience simple, interactive and fun sound toys and musical instruments – for the complete beginner or the expert, from iPads to sensors, from Garageband to creating your own interactive music/sound applications:


  • Friday 26th in The Craft Village square, off Shipquay Street/Magazine Street, from 12:00pm – 3:00 pm
  • Next Thursday (1st June) in An Cultúrlann, Great James Street, from 11:00

Everyone is welcome: children, adults, all abilities and interests, can attend our workshops, which are delivered by experts, including leading musicians, performers and researchers.

Email heartsofstem@gmail.com to reserve your place, or simply drop in on the day, the workshops are free!

Inclusive Creativity/Hearts of STEM 2017 project gratefully acknowledges the support of the Garfield Weston Foundation, which has enabled us to offer these workshops to local communities free of charge!

HoSTEM Outreach Workshops #3

Many thanks to Peter O’Doherty @culturlanndoire and Peter Doherty of Knockavoe School, Strabane, for inviting so many talented young adults to the third of our Inclusive Creativity: Digital Practices outreach workshops @InclusiveCreati. Lewis Smith (Ulster University) and Dr Brendan McCloskey (Ulster University)  brought a range of instruments, from the conventional:


. . . to the unexpected (spot the pear):


The students were first introduced to, arguably, more familiar touch-screen controllers, like the iPad and Lewis’ own web-based interface:

They were then shown how to sequence and record drum-loops and melodies, using Ableton Live and Ableton Push:

The session ended with a Makey Makey instrument – making connections to sound:

Surprisingly, if anecdotally, this group appeared to enjoy the Makey Makey instrument, the Ableton Push and Lewis’ web-based interface much more than the iPad apps. The semi-autonomous nature of instruments such as Bloom and Musyc limited their engagement with music-making, whereas the intrigue of “human-circuits and squiggly lines” was more attractive.

NonZeroSum rehearsals, for HeartsOfSTEM and Walled City Music Festival, as gig approaches

Prof Frank Lyon’s latest work NonZeroSum, for digital musicians and string quartet, is adacious, challenging and ground-breaking. Rehearsals have entered the “this is really happening” phase, as Friday 2nd June approaches. Only two rehearsals left, with the Benyounes Quartet. Here, the performers John, Sean, Jay, David and Lewis are working on a particularly tense and tricky section, demanding intense focus, but the effort is ultimately rewarding as always:




HoSTEM Outreach Workshop #1

16th May 2017, Foyle Arts Building, Ulster University at Magee

Shane Byrne (Maynooth University), Lewis Smith (Ulster University) and Dr Brendan McCloskey (Ulster University) led a small group through tools and methods for Inclusive Creativity and Digital Practices, emphasising DIY sound toys, Arduino and Web Audio API. The participants were offered a pot pourri of tools, and first chose to investigate ‘Arduino 101′, a gentle introduction to digitising physical gesture data, and the group quickly grasped the concept and process of building a simple dynamic sensor (DIY force sensors), and writing simple code in the Arduino IDE, to turn touch data into a dynamic stream of 10-bit values. Next, they were shown how to turn that data into sound, by building a graphite-and-copper ribbon controller, and by using the “tone” function in Arduino to generate pitches based on contact location. Finally, Lewis demonstrated how to access and control web-based touch interactions for sound, sharing and analysing code via codepen.io, and Lewis’ own website withsmiles.com. The participants left with a keen desire to explore the creative/interactive possibilities of the tools and processes demonstrated; it is hoped that their comments to friends and colleagues will generate greater interest for any future event of this nature.

Hearts of STEM 2017: Workshops

As part of Inclusive Creativity/Hearts of STEM 2017 and the Walled City Music Festival, we are delighted to be running FREE WORKSHOPS for the general public! These workshops are suitable anyone with an interest in arts, technology and issues of inclusion and accessibility and will be run at levels from beginners to intermediate.

These workshops are supported by Garfield Weston, Walled City Music and Ulster’s School of Creative Arts and Technologies (Magee campus) and Arts and Humanities Research Institute.

Workshop partners include: Nerve Centre/the FabLab, Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, the Inner City Trust, Movin Music Academy and Something Special.

Workshops will include the following topics:

INTRODUCTORY LEVEL: Tablets for Music Production and Performance 

  • Free software for tablets and iPads to control music-making software
  • simple web-based interfaces for touch control of sound and music using free/inexpensive apps,
  • Interfacing with Ableton Live and Logic.

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL: Sensors, Instrument Design, Creative Technologies

  • Simple DIY sensors for control of sound, using Arduino,
  • Pure Data, simple coding and sound design. Standalone
  • Making digital controllers using Intel Galileo and simple code.

To book a place on these workshops, email heartsofstem@gmail.com

Workshops will take place at venues throughout Derry/Londonderry including the Foyle Arts Building (Magee campus) and the Craft Village.

Foyle arts map

Times: 12 noon to 4 pm

Dates and topics:

  • Tuesday 16th May (Foyle Arts Building): INTERMEDIATE: simple sensors, digital instrument design, creative technologies
  • Friday 19th May (Foyle Arts Building): INTRODUCTORY: tablets for music production and performance
  • Thursday 25th May (Foyle Arts Building):  INTRODUCTORY: tablets for music production and performance
  • Friday 26th May (Craft Village): INTERMEDIATE: simple sensors, digital instrument design, creative technologies

To book a place on these workshops or if you have any queries, email heartsofstem@gmail.com


Inclusive Creativity: Digital Practices (Hearts of STEM 2017)

Inclusive Creativity: Digital Practices (Hearts of STEM 2017) is a public symposium/mini-conference which is being organised by Dr Brendan McCloskey, Prof. Frank Lyons and Dr Brian Bridges, at Ulster University, Magee campus on May 31st 2017. The event is being held in association with the Walled City Music Festival and is being supported by Garfield Weston.

The event is FREE to anyone interested in inclusion within the arts, education and community sectors.

Further details can be found on the event Facebook page or on our own event page here.

Sign up for free tickets for the event here.

Derry map 1

ISSTA festival: sound, art, technology, experience

Just a quick note to say that we’re going to be hosting two great performance events as part of this year’s Irish Sound, Science and Technology Association festival and conference (at Ulster University, Magee, with partner venues) on Fri 9th September.

The first is a creative exploration of the border (Borders Project), by our own PhD researcher Adrian O’Connell, the second, Reassembled, Slightly Askew by Shannon Sickels,  is a theatre piece which uses sound and new technologies to immersive the audience in a sensory journey from brain injury to recovery!

Booking for both events will be released via the @issta_ie Twitter account. Events are free, but capacity will be limited.

Photos from the first Hearts of STEM event

Some lo-fi as-they-happend photos (and some higher-fi photos contributed by others) can be found on our twitter stream:https://twitter.com/heartsofstem

Our good friend Rowan Morrey from the Faculty of Arts at Ulster has some great photos of the event (95 in all) on the Ulster Arts Flickr account.

Video documentary coming soon, courtesy of Pillarpix Media.