In the latest issue of The MagPi magazine, we meet the smart young computer scientist behind an exciting new YouTube channel. When did you have that ‘ah-hah’ moment with computing? Ellora James remembers when she had hers.
“When I was about 14/15 years old, I was considering taking Computer Science at exam level, and so my teacher gave me a Raspberry Pi to borrow and a booklet on Python to play about with,” Ellora tells us. “I remember taking it all home, setting up Raspberry Pi on my kitchen table, and writing my first-ever line of python where I got it to print ‘Hello World’. I was just fascinated by the concept of being able to get computers to do what we tell them, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Several years, one company, and many awards later, Ellora is an up-and-coming young computer scientist who has recently launched her own amazing YouTube channel.
What is your history with Raspberry Pi?
“I continued to work through the Python booklet at home and started to dive deeper into Raspberry Pi itself. The big thing that really cemented my love of Raspberry Pi was being selected to attend the Raspberry Pi Digital Making Day in Cambridge, back in 2016. We had to create a 60-second video to apply and despite mine, from what I can remember, being very cheesy, I was selected to attend.
Me and my Mum travelled to Cambridge, which was a fun trip in itself. We tried soldering, set up bird-boxes with infrared cameras and Raspberry Pi Zero, and got to use electric paint to create circuits on T-shirts. It was so much fun, and I’m still planning on setting up my bird-box one day. Being specifically selected to attend gave me a lot of motivation to keep making. And that must have stayed with me over the years, as I’m back making again, and this time on an even bigger scale with my channel!”
What is Envirocache?
“Envirocache is a mobile app designed to get children (and adults) outside, active, and educated about the world around them. The app allows you to search for walking routes near you and shows you points of interest you can find along the way. You unlock badges and earn points for finding these, like a nature treasure hunt.
The concept started off as an entry to the Apps for Good competition and has grown from there. I now work on the app alongside my team members, Mari-Ann Ganson and Jamie Smith. The app is still in its development stage, but we’re looking at a potential release date this year.”
What are some of your favourite things you’ve made with Raspberry Pi?
“My first big project was my ‘PiAlarm’. I got a touchscreen display for the Raspberry Pi for Christmas back in 2015, and ended up designing an alarm clock in Python. It took many hours of work and I also lost my code at one point and had to start again, but I learned a lot from that project, and being my first big one it definitely holds a special place in my heart.
It had a full user interface, let me pick from multiple songs, and even tweeted the time it took me to get up and turn it off in an effort to encourage me to get out of bed quicker. I actually made a short video about it and still have the code somewhere, so I’m thinking of revisiting it on my channel as a future project. I also took part in the 2016/17 European Astro Pi Challenge, where my project idea involved measuring environmental data on the ISS to see how this impacted the circadian rhythms of astronauts.
The idea was that the astronauts would log how long they slept for, the quality of their sleep, and also hunger levels, to gain an understanding of their circadian rhythm. I also planned to create a reaction game to test how sleep and hunger levels affected their reaction times.”
Subscribe to Ellora’s YouTube channel
If you like the sound of Ellora’s projects, why not subscribe to her YouTube channel. Ellora describes her channel as such:
Hi everybody! My name is Ellora James and I’m a University student studying Ethical Hacking. I love all things technology and digital making, and this channel is dedicated to that. I’m also mildly *obsessed* with the Raspberry Pi, so you’ll see a lot of them on this channel!