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p2-3

News of ten new Re-


gional Centres to help
CAS build communi-
ties of practice.

p4-7
A focus on pedagogy.
Recognising and com-
batting learnt helpless-
ness and the promise
offered by guided discovery.

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A host of articles high-
Its only been a year but Computing has taken giant steps forward in that
lighting resources, pro-
time. Many teachers new to the ideas have grasped the nettle, got stuck in and
gramming pedagogy
found, whatever their initial fears, that their students have (almost overwhelm-
and cross curricular
ingly) loved the sort of tasks and problems posed. At the annual CAS Teacher
opportunities.
Conference anecdotes abounded about the growing realisation that Computing
is serious fun! We are at the start of a long journey of discovery, exploring to-
p10-11
gether how best we can develop young childrens capacity to think like comput-
Introducing divide and
er scientists. What is emerging is a vibrant Community of Practice.
conquer through ways
to shake hands.
Research identifies key pillars (left) on which suc-
cessful professional development is built. CAS are
p12-13
developing tools, resources, accreditation and
A pioneer of Compu-
training to facilitate these. This year, ten new CAS
ting and an inspiration
Regional Centres will help consolidate the
for women today.
groundswell of grassroots activity that underpins
our community. At its heart lie local CAS Hubs,
p20
where colleagues swap ideas, share insights and
First part in a quickfire tour of
forge friendships based on a common purpose. No
the history of insatiable curi-
-one can deny the challenges curriculum change
osity, bright ideas and awe-
brings, but CAS members can take real pride in
some innovation.
the way they are stepping up to meet them.

The Computing At School group (CAS) is a membership association in partnership with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
and supported by Microsoft, Google and others. It aims to support and promote the teaching of computing in UK schools.

ISSN: 2050 -1277 (online) 2050 -1269 (print)


The CAS Community reaches around
20,000 people online. It plays host to a
vibrant discussion forum, provides a cen- The DfE has agreed a continuation of fund-
tral listing service for the vast array of ing for the CAS Network of Excellence in
meetings and events now being organised Computer Science (NoE). Simon Humphreys
up and down the country, and, perhaps outlines plans for the next stage.
most importantly, is a place where many
teachers contribute and share resources. We are delighted that the DfE has agreed that CAS should continue to
run the Network of Excellence. Over the last two years it has played an
CAS will no doubt continue to grow as important part in providing training opportunities for both Primary and
more and more schools begin to address Secondary teachers, and in preparing the ground for the introduction of
the demands of the new curriculum. Get- the new curriculum. Nearly 400 Master Teachers have provided CPD
ting the message out about the joy of sessions for colleagues in their localities, and over 550 Lead Schools
teaching Computing is not always easy. have initiated a raft of exemplar activities further fostering the ethos of
Alongside the CAS Community, we have local support. CAS has very little central administration and virtually all
looked at ways to share information its activity grows from the efforts of those in the localities. Add to those
through direct mails to members and efforts the explosion of local Hubs and other ad hoc activity, and it has
schools. There are limits to an online com- become clear that we would all benefit from a greater degree of co-
munity alone, and the strength of CAS re- ordination across the regions.
ally lies in the face-to-face support organ-
ised at grassroots level. As Simon Hum- The biggest change is that ten universities across England will be taking
phreys notes (right), the development of on responsibility for regional co-ordination and support of the NoE. We
Regional Centres is a move to help consol- believe this will help ensure that the communities of professional prac-
idate the activities on the ground. tice that you have helped to build will continue to grow. Local Hubs and
existing Master Teachers will be at the heart of the new regional commu-
Over the last few years SWITCHEDON, nities, supported by the activities of local universities and Lead Schools.
our termly magazine, has become an im- The CAS Regional Centres will be organised by the following university
portant part of the way teachers can share partners:
ideas and spread good practice. A growing Newcastle
number are contributing articles and it has Plymouth
become another vehicle for keeping col- Southampton
leagues informed of important develop- Hertfordshire
ments. Past issues are available on the York
CAS Community at resources/3127. They Manchester
chart the remarkable journey for schools Lancaster
since 2009, told largely by teachers. Nottingham
(Nottingham
Simon Humphreys at the London CRC launch
We are often asked by teachers how to get Trent)
hard copies. Unfortunately, costs preclude Birmingham (Birmingham City University)
us sending individual copies out, though London (Queen Mary University London & Kings College London)
we will send complimentary copies to con-
tributors! However, we can now deliver The overarching aims of the Network of Excellence are to ensure that
boxes (in multiples of 40) to Hub Leaders, Computing becomes firmly established in all Primary and Secondary
for local distribution at Hub meetings and schools across the country, and that teachers, in both phases, are confi-
events. If you are a Hub Leader please dent, enthusiastic and possess the subject knowledge and skills to be
contact claire.davenport@hq.bcs.org.uk for effective. As they develop, so we hope they will become active partici-
details of how to place a regular order. The pants in local communities of practice.
newsletter is more than a magazine; we
hope it will be used to grow the community A key role of the CAS Regional Centres will be to build relationships with
and keep local groups together. Teachers head teachers and school leadership teams to ensure the importance of
are busy people. By offering local distribu- the curriculum changes are fully understood. Already Regional Centres
tion points, we hope it will also help people are making plans for the year ahead and all schools registered with the
maintain contact, even if they cant always NoE will be contacted with further details of their plans. If your school
attend meetings. Roger Davies isnt registered, now is the time to do so. You will see whether your
school is registered by looking at your CAS Community profile.
SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 2
The Certificate requires evidence
Its a year since the BCS Certificate in Computer
from three areas. Firstly a demon-
Science Teaching launched. With one year to com-
strable commitment to developing
plete, the first teachers are now getting accredited.
your own knowledge and practice
Sue Sentence reviews progress so far.
by attending CPD. Secondly we
The Certificate offers an opportunity versity academics who have a passion ask participants to develop a pro-
for teachers to gain accreditation from for supporting teacher development. E gramming project. We have had
a professional body with respect to -assessors give guidance on pro- some great ones completed so
their teaching of Computing. You may posals and feedback on drafts, thus far. From Primary teachers exam-
wish to gain this because you have giving a strong emphasis on formative ples include a
trained in a different subject, including assessment. At the time of writing, Test Yourself
ICT, or because you simply wish to over 180 teachers have already en- Tables applica-
have recognition, from BCS, The rolled on the BCS Certificate in Com- tion, Fractals, a
Chartered Institute for IT, of your com- puter Science Teaching. Binary learning
petence as a Computing teacher. Af- tool and farm
ter a successful pilot, we launched last To provide a smoother service, we are shop program.
October and have seen steady regis- making a few small changes. There Secondary pro-
trations since. Tim Dolan from The de now will be six cohorts a year starting jects are more
Montford School, Evesham, the first on every odd-numbered month. This involved but
Certificate recipient, had it presented will enable us to give teachers more manageable.
at the CAS Conference: The course support in their first month, as a group Rigorous, not
was excellent and I would recommend will start together. We will evaluate onerous is the
any ICT or computing teacher apply. It this approach and review next year. watchword.
encouraged me to find new ways to We have also introduced free coding Examples in-
engage my students. days for teachers working on their clude a pass-
Part 2 (see right) in the school holi- word checker,
days (6 days per year). This is for Computing and Maths quizzes, a
teachers already working on a project tracker and data representation
who need some support from experts system, Most Likely Grade (MLG)
as well as an opportunity to put aside convertor, calculator and runners'
some uninterrupted time to work on it. training database
Janice McGinty of Joseph Swan
Academy said "It was very helpful and The Classroom Investigation is
I thoroughly enjoyed it - even though I the third aspect of the Certificate.
am an absolute beginner. It was great We have seen an interest in in-
to meet other people who are doing vestigating effective teaching with
the course and share our thoughts, unplugged methods, investiga-
problems and ideas." The days are, of tions around the implementation
course, optional and the rest of the of GCSE and many more. Some
The Certificate is intended to comple- Certificate runs completely online. of the diverse examples include:
ment other CAS activities. Teachers how teaching digital ethics can
can access face-to-face training Although the Certificate is completely enhance Computing in Key Stage
through CAS Master Teachers and flexible we aim to introduce a more 2; incorporating the Programme of
local Hubs. The certificate gives you a structured option this year, giving Study and associated methods of
chance to log and reflect on these teachers the chance to take online assessment in KS3; the impact of
sessions. Each teacher is allocated to modules leading to completion of Part mini (high impact and specific)
an e-assessor. Mostly these are uni- 2 and Part 3. Python programming tasks on the
confidence of low ability male
To find out more go to http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/certificate or con-
learners; investigating the benefits
tact certificate@computingatschool.org.uk. The cost is 300 (+VAT) with op-
of code copying as part of learning
tions to pay by invoice, credit card or instalments. You can follow us at
to program. Are you inspired to
@cas_certificate where we regularly tweet about useful CPD offered by CAS
give it a go?
Master Teachers. We look forward to hearing from you!

3 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
Learnt helplessness is a strategy for getting other people to solve problems for
you. For pupils, these others may be the teacher, LSA, classroom assistant or oth-
er children. Phil Bagge, from the Hampshire Inspection and Advisory Service, notes
its prevalence in Computing lessons and suggests ways to recognise and overcome it.
In the last three years I have taught nothing but Computer Science in six
Primary schools (over 1200 hours) and have seen learnt helplessness to
1: Recognising the issue is the first step. varying degrees in all those schools. It can be seen in various ways.
Without that, we cant effect any change. Sweet helplessness often manifests to the teacher as a pupil putting on
a sweet helpless voice and declaring they are stuck. Aggressive help-
2: It takes time both to change your own lessness manifests with a cross tone and the implication that they think
practice and move pupils to better strate- the work is stupid or they dont get it. Being stuck is never a problem
gies. It took me several months to change but if you ask what they are stuck on and the pupil cannot tell you or
my own practice. With pupils in KS2, where describe the problem or they give vague indications that they are stuck
learnt helplessness had become a way of on everything then there is a good chance they are using learnt help-
life, to make any impact took five weeks. lessness to get you to solve their problem. Similar strategies will often be
used with their peers, tailored to make the problem solver feel valued,
3: Establish a positive attitude towards superior or pressured into helping.
problem solving. Computing calls errors
bugs and finding errors debugging. The Often excellent teachers, who wouldn't dream of doing work for pupils in
language is much more impersonal than other areas of the curriculum, will jump in and solve the problem for the
mistakes which imply blame or fault. Let pupil. The fact that so many pupils use learnt helplessness suggests that
pupils know that bugs are normal and you it has been a successful strategy for many. Getting someone else to do
will not be cross if their work has them. your work for you would be an issue in any subject, but it is the antithe-
sis of computing with its emphasis on problem solving and debugging. In
4: Promote the idea that it is not your job to fact, to solve a problem for a child is to deny them the opportunity to de-
fix their algorithms or debug their code. It bug code or fix algorithms and as such is debilitating.
is your job to promote strategies they can
use to fix things themselves. So how has it become so prevalent? I suspect that it has grown out of
teachers fear or unfamiliarity with the subject material, coupled with a
5: Pupils transitioning from learnt helpless- belief that pupils know more about technology than adults and an em-
ness need to see what they are doing. I phasis on the finished product rather than the process. All of these fac-
ask pupils: Are you trying to get me to fix tors lead teachers to fix things for pupils rather than to steer them to find
your code? Are you trying to get me to solutions for themselves.
solve the problem for you? An element of
challenge is inevitable to identify the issue. If we recognise this as an issue, how can we counter this and encourage
resilience and problem solving? Youll find a range of suggestions in the
6: Having a ban on touching someones accompanying sidebar.
mouse, keyboard or touchscreen is a good
start. Compare this to writing in someone Finally it is worth noting that learnt helplessness isnt just confined to
elses exercise book. pupils. You may also notice the signs in the behaviour of some teachers
and learning support assistants. Is it worth the hassle to challenge this?
7: Move pupils away from language that As a parent I know that my children dont do what I say but what I do. I
personifies difficulties. My computer hates lead mostly by example or lack of it as my wife will testify. This is just as
me, is typical. Machines are deterministic, true in the classroom or computer suite. Of course we need to be tactful
not capricious. and recognise the good practice of teachers and the excellent problem
solving strategies in other curriculum areas, but if we dont identify the
8: Dont neglect the other adults in the problem, nothing will change. I have found that talking about my own
class. Train them to help pupils by sug- struggle to change has enabled others to do likewise.
gesting good strategies and giving hints This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on Phils blog.
rather than solutions. His reflections on teaching Computing, and many excellent resources,
are on his website, Junior Computer Science at www.code-it.co.uk/

SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 4
Sally Jordan, a teacher at Acacias Community
Primary School, Manchester, and CAS Hub Leader,
shares her experiences of developing a group of
Digital Leaders. She urges you to give it a go!
The CAS forum is a fantastic place to year are: Registration for the annual UK
share ideas and ask for help and ad- Contributing to E-Safety Assemblies. Bebras Challenge is open. The
vice. It was during one of these con- Demonstrating new programs in challenge takes place in the sec-
versations that I realised how many of class. Pre-teaching a small group of ond week of November and takes
us were interested in developing Digi- Digital Leaders has worked really well around 40 minutes. Now in its
tal Leaders in a Primary setting. I to improve teacher confidence. third year, it is fast becoming a
would highly recommend doing so and Providing content for the school well established part of the many
here are my experiences of recruiting website / blog. schools Computing calendar. De-
and running such group over the past Demonstrating technology like Ma- signed to stimulate Computational
two years. key Makey at Parent Learning Events. Thinking in students, the ques-
Showcasing new apps to teachers tions are inspired by Computer
I have learnt a lot in that time. Firstly, at CAS Primary Hub Meetings. Science, but require reasoning,
give pupils ownership of the recruit- Being responsible for uploading im- rather than specialist knowledge.
ment process. I advertised for the new ages from iPads to shared drives. No preparation is required and the
group with posters around school and Checking the Computing Suite. results could form an important
pupils completed a questionnaire. I Attending an afterschool Code Club part of a departments assess-
was looking for great technical skills to support other pupils. ment strategy. There is obviously
but also, equally important was an the potential for collating across
enthusiasm for collaboration, commu- Good communication is vital and I schools in a region as well.
nication and teamwork. Initially, I re- have found holding regular meetings
cruited a group of 10 children from is important to maintain impetus, en- A magic word is needed to open a box. A
Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 and intro- thusiasm and the profile of the group. secret code assigns each letter of the
duced them to staff and pupils during alphabet to a unique number. The code
an assembly. One of the final tasks Make it fun too! Trips are an ideal way for the magic word is written on the out-
this year for my Year 6 team members to enthuse your group, whether to visit side of the box. What is the word?
will be to interview and recruit the next another Digital Leader group to share
cohort of Digital Leaders by shortlist- ideas, or to learn more about new Possible Answers:
ing and interviewing candidates. technology. We had a very good LOOSER
Lego Mindstorms session WINNER
at the University of Man- LOTTOS
chesters Robogals. I have TICKET
seen how much the chil-
dren enjoy the responsibil- A sample Secondary age question
ity and the opportunity to is shown above. The challenge is
develop new skills and I free to enter and marked automat-
certainly wouldnt be with- ically. Your school will receive
out them! One Digital feedback and certificates, and the
Leader explained, I like highest scores can feature in the
being a DL because I like online Hall of Fame. There are
to program and see new categories for all age groups. Kits
things like robots! whilst and Castors challenges (Years
another commented, I like 2/3 and 4/5) can be tackled in
I would also advise giving Digital to experiment on new websites and small groups if preferred. Junior,
Leaders roles which are as varied and get more confident so I can explain it Intermediate, Higher and Elite
as interesting as possible. We identi- to other children. If youd like more categories cater for Years 6 to 13.
fied several specific tasks we would information on Digital Leaders, see: Indicative questions are available.
benefit from. Some of the activities in www.digitalclassrooms.co.uk and More details can be found at
which they have been involved this chrismayoh.com/digital-leaders/. www.beaver-comp.org.uk

5 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
Are we nearly there yet? Well,
our journey continues and so
does the progress made by the The options available for Primary age chil-
children. Our learning platform dren to develop control and sense projects
has been enthusiastically estab- has grown dramatically. Andrew Shields
lished by many of the older pu- provides a timely review of some of them.
pils. They are developing their
own sites within it and sharing knowledge The variety of products has increased rapidly over the past year. Per-
through forums. Their grasp of the technol- haps this is due to the new Computing curriculum or perhaps to the suc-
ogy is exponentially quicker than ours and cess of the Raspberry Pi. Whatever the reason for it, the number of
they share the delights they discover with small computer devices now available to purchase allows us to build and
staff. The inevitable buzz has meant more program devices that can sense distance, pressure, light; follow a line;
reluctant pupils taking ownership and re- and enable movement through the use of small motors and servos.
sponsibility for their online access and Moreover, some of these devices are relatively cheap to purchase.
passwords. In addition, home learning has
been far more interactive. The students The 'Crumble Controller' from Redfern Electronics
are starting to consider alternatives to is an easy-to-use programmable controller. It can
word processing to demonstrate their drive 2 motors forwards and backwards at variable
learning we will get to multi-media yet speeds. It has 4 Input/Output (IO) pads which allow
connections to switches,light sensors, low power
Without a doubt the greatest excitement LEDs and more. A Crumble costs 12 and a basic
has been the arrival of Chromebooks. With starter pack will set you back 18. Youll find details
set-up almost complete we are eager to let at redfernelectronics.co.uk/crumble/. Software
the children loose. These enormous car- to program the Crumble is free to download from the
rots remind us why we have spent time website and is based on Scratch, so it is easy to
with unplugged learning. Only this week get to grips with. 4Tronix (4tronix.co.uk), who
working as human robots it was apparent supply a range of computing kit for
that although our students will quickly ex- Raspberry Pi's, also have a range of
ceed our knowledge, they need secure items to add to a Crumble to extend
grounding for understanding. This is a key what you and your children are able
lesson that we must preserve as our pleth- to do - there is even a programmable
ora of equipment comes online. Crumble floor robot. Class sets of
components can also be provided.
On a personal note, I led my first CAS
training session. It was daunting but fun. It Codebug (codebug.openlx.org.uk) was a recent feature on Kickstarter
also made me rethink some of my own (the website to help fund ideas) and is a small programmable and wear-
programming approaches. Of course I had able device in the vein of the BBC micro:bit. It has 25 LEDs arranged in
spent much time revising what I was going a grid that can be used to display an image or scroll text. It is also pro-
to do: collecting resources and preparing grammable in a free to use Scratch-type language. At the time of writing
the presentation. Having been observed only class sets of 30 CodeBugs are available, but the ability to purchase
many times and led numerous inset ses- individual ones is coming soon.
sions, I was not prepared for the nerves
that arrived with my guests Equally, 4Tronix sell a range of items including their own floor robots. The Pi2go
despite pre-checks, the normally compliant is a robot controlled by a built in Raspberry Pi and can be programmed
whiteboard and laptop connection had a in either Scratch or Python. 4Tronix sell the Pi2go as both a self assem-
moment or two and we were truly un- bly kit without a Pi or, for a higher price, with a Pi included. You can add
plugged. Fortunately I had included practi- a number of options and even have them build it for you if you don't fan-
cal activities that superseded the display. cy the challenge of assembling it yourself. As the months go by, the in-
Afterwards, Dave (my regional coordinator) genuity of people to create usable devices for school continues to
and I reviewed the session. Like most amaze me. These devices are not overly complicated or overpriced and
teachers, I nit-picked the bits to improve. I would be a great way through which to start a Computing club. Show
was reminded that appraisal is about the them to the children, get them started and they will show you what is
praise bit too thanks Dave. With two possible. Once the children are on board, have them share what they've
more planned it is a work in progress. done with the staff. Hopefully this will get the devices into classrooms
and into the general curriculum. Give them a try, you won't regret it.
SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 6
Developing computational thinking and creativi-
ty to understand and change the world made With this approach children make
Julia Briggs determined to establish a curricu- mistakes from the beginning and
lum to empower both learners and teachers. learn from those mistakes. They
are in control of technology and
The phrase is the starting point for the challenge themselves to achieve other
confident to have a go at new
Computing Programme of Study. It outcomes. Learning will increase
things. They challenge them-
establishes a clear and exciting pur- where children support each other,
selves and persevere to achieve
pose but also a tremendous responsi- recognising their own strengths and
the outcomes they want. They
bility for us to ensure the approaches the strengths of others. Children will
develop logical thinking through
we take achieve this. It was action often benefit from working 1:1 with a
doing and the technology gives
research with Somerset primary device but need to be encouraged to
them immediate feedback.
schools in 2013 that led me to estab- be talking and looking at what others
lish some key principles to underpin are also doing.
The benefits of a guided discovery
the teaching of programming. Since
approach are illustrated by the
then Ive taught many lessons and The skill of the teacher lies in being
outcomes in the diagram (left).
found that these principles apply to the guide providing the appropriate
These are skills and attitudes that
different ages, abilities and resources. activities. Phil Bagge, for example,
can make a difference to all as-
The principles come from the three has produced a wonderful video and
pects of life and learning. One
foundations of exploration, independ- lesson plans which demonstrate the
teacher whom I worked with de-
ence and collaboration. way in which Bee-Bots or other floor
scribed the difference lessons with
Scratch had made to the ability of
her Year 6 children to inde-
pendently tackle problems in
mathematics. Another described
the way in which learners were
more ready to challenge them-
selves rather than rely on input
from their teacher. The approach
we take is important and will
make a difference to the learn-
ing that takes place in our
schools. It will also impact on
the future when our learners will
truly be changing the world.

Learners need time to explore the robots can be used to develop compu-
Julia Briggs is an Education Technol-
software, app or robot to build their tational thinking with the youngest
ogy Advisor working with Primary
confidence. For older learners this children. See bit.ly/BaggeBeeBot.
and special schools in Somerset.
may be a 30 minute starter with a new
The Somerset ELIM team created
resource or new aspect of a resource. My research established a progres-
the Computing curriculum model
For younger learners it may be a se- sion for Key Stage Two learners with
which was the basis of the Wessex
quence of two or three 10 - 20 minute Scratch software. Children begin with
Computing planning resources, to be
opportunities. Learners also need open exploration and are then guided
found at el.im/et-WessexPlanning.
planned experiences which encourage through the software. Tasks such as
This has been used and adapted in
independent choices and building the telling of a knock, knock joke, 5-
many classrooms across England.
of knowledge and skills. Apposite block and 10-block challenges and
The broader curriculum overview, the
challenges with appropriate interven- what happens when type puzzles,
Somerset Model for Primary Compu-
tions by the teacher will provide the occur between learning experiences
ting, suggests how different elements
independence where children learn based on support sheets. The sidebar
or threads can interlink. This can be
from their mistakes and persevere to outlines some of the outcomes from
found at el.im/et-primarycomputing
achieve the outcome they want and adopting this approach.
7 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
All new year 7 pupils should be receiving
their own BBC micro:bit at some point this
term. The micro:bit is the flagship project One of the strengths of the new curriculum
of the BBCs Make It Digital campaign. A are the potential cross curricular elements.
small number will be supplied to teachers CAS Master Teacher Beverly Clarke argues
first so they can familiarise themselves this allows for a fuller learning experience.
before the devices start arriving for the
children towards the end of October. At the At Sunbury Manor School, in Sunbury on Thames, we have fully imple-
time of writing, actual dates were still to be mented the new curriculum. In year 7, we have been coding in Python
confirmed. The micro:bit public launch took using turtle graphics and creating polygons. This has been linked with
place in July and there were plans in place the Maths department who have reinforced all the required knowledge
for a group around polygons angles, number of sides etc. In Computing we have
of teachers been able to focus on the structure of the programming language as
to undertake students already have the underlying concepts of what we are creating.
beta testing
during the Year 8 have completed a sound unit getting to grips with file sizes, types
summer. and compression. They have also recorded their own sound files. At the
same time in Music they have been studying sound and creating compo-
The small sitions. Students have then coded their compositions in Computing using
(4cm by Scratch. This has allowed a real world view of sound and music.
5cm) pro-
grammable device houses a 25 LED dis-
play, two simple input switches and capa-
bility to connect other input / output via
standard connectors. It can communicate
with other devices too via Bluetooth. It also
has a built in compass and accelerometer.

It has a very low entry threshold, allowing


children with no prior experience to quickly
code something simple using a block Similarly, in Year 9 students have studied number systems, used logic
based language such as illuminating a gate simulator software and applied their knowledge of binary to create
pattern in the LEDs but can support com- seven segment displays. Having understood the binary behind the dis-
plex activities in a range of other lan- play they have then worked in the Technology department to build a sev-
guages. As such, it is accessible to chil- en segment display, which they then took home. This has encouraged
dren coming up from primary schools with students to see the natural links between different subjects and for con-
a wide variety of experience and can sup- cepts to be reinforced across those subjects. It has been the input of all
port the transition to text based coding. the departments that has allowed for a smoother and more successful
Programs are written on the dedicated implementation of the new curriculum.
website, which should be live by the start
of the autumn term. These are compiled in
the cloud, then saved to the device (which
To help teachers get to grips with the BBC micro:bit, a short help guide
is initially attached, via USB to a pc/tablet/
will be distributed along with the devices. The
mobile, rather like a pen drive). The
guide explains all the basic steps required to
micro:bit therefore requires no special
quickly get up and running. It includes 3 walk
installation. Once flashed to the de-
through challenges which introduce all the basic
vice it can be disconnected and runs
functionality. They demonstrate how programs
the program from its own memory. The
can be written in both blocks and Touch Devel-
website will include tutorials and projects.
op, and how a block based program can be
converted to its Touch Develop equivalent.
Following the BBC distribution to Year 7
Opportunities to introduce Computer Science
students, there are plans to open source
in the activities are highlighted. Further guid-
the technical specifications to ensure conti-
ance is given on how to develop your own
nuity and further development.
tutorials for students.

SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 8
At 11:03am on December 15th, a
Puzzles are a great way to explore computational thinking and
British astronaut will be blasting
especially representation says Paul Curzon. With this in mind,
off for the first time in 25 years, for
Teaching London Computing has developed a series of puzzle-
a six-month mission on the Inter-
based activities on graph representations.
national Space Station (ISS). Tim
School computing focuses on algo- chess knight around a board to visit Peake is currently training for his
rithms and programs, but the way in- every square once. Next move to a mission in the USA and Russia.
formation is represented is just as really easy puzzle: a Tour Guide using He's especially interested in edu-
important. Choosing a good represen- an underground map to plan a visit to cation so lots of free educational
tation matters. It can completely tourist attractions. Working out why materials are being built around
change the algorithm you design, turn this second puzzle is so easy gives us his mission. The European Space
a slow program into a fast one, and a way to make the first problem easy Agency (ESA) have partnered
convert a hard problem into an easy too. It boils down to the right choice of with the Raspberry Pi Foundation
one. Puzzles are a great way to ex- representation of the information. and UK Space to send two Rasp-
plore computational thinking and es- berry Pi Tim Peake
pecially representation. With this in A third activity goes a step computers
mind, Teaching London Computing further. It uses an intri- into space
has developed a series of puzzle- guing folded paper puzzle with Tim.
based activities on graph representa- called a hexahexaflexagon Software
tions. A graph to a computer scientist to introduce the idea of a written by
consists of circles (nodes) with lines finite state machine: a way children
between them (edges). It is just a of using a graph as a kind will be run
simple map - an abstraction used to of program. Hexahexaflex- on the two
describe places and ways you can agons (template shown) Astro Pis as
move between them. appear to have two sides part of the
when constructed, but mission.
they can be folded and
unfolded to reveal other The Astro Pi
sides. Some sides are project allows
harder to find than others. UK pupils to own and program the
When exploring the puz- same hardware that will be used
zle, drawing a graph is a by the crew of the ISS: a Raspber-
natural thing to do to help ry Pi with a space-grade add-on
work out how you get from board called the Sense HAT
side to side. The graph is (available to buy soon). The
a computational model of the flexagon Sense HAT is packed with sen-
A simple example of a graph describing the computations involved sors that can be programmed very
showing three nodes, connected in folding it. By seeing the graphs simply using Python. You can
by edges
edges as inputs that lead to changes measure, temperature, pressure,
The places dont have to be physical in the state of a program, the graph humidity, acceleration, magnetic
locations - they could be web pages (now called a finite state machine) fields and angular momentum. It
linked by hyperlinks, the modes of a becomes a simulation of the flexagon. has an 8x8 grid of big multi-
digital watch linked by button presses, Finite state machines are used to coloured LEDs for a display, and
or even different steps in a puzzle quickly prototype designs of hardware, there is even a little joystick built
linked by moves. Graphs are used to control systems or even user interfaces. in! Over the coming months a set
organise data that needs to be ex- of free educational resources will
plored or processed in some way. These activities are available from be released surrounding the Astro
www.teachinglondoncomputing.org Pi project. There will even be an
Our activities on graphs aim to intro- with supporting booklets ready in Au- on-orbit activity that schools can
duce them in a fun way, while also tumn 2015. This work is supported by get involved with. For more infor-
exploring why choosing a good repre- the Mayor of London, Department for mation visit the Astro Pi website at
sentation matters so much. First start Education, EPSRC through CHI+MED astro-pi.org. Dave Honess
with quite a hard puzzle - moving a and Google.
9 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
The notion of divide and conquer as a
strategy for solving a problem can be intro-
duced in a variety of simple ways to young Were holding an event and everyone has
children. One entertaining example, with a to meet everyone else. Whats the short-
particularly seasonal flavour has been pro- est time this might take? Greg Michaelson
duced by the team at CS Unplugged. considers possible approaches.
Suppose that, as each guest arrives, they meet in turn all the people that
are there already. Starting with the first guest, who doesnt meet anyone,
the second guest has 1 meeting, the third guest has 2 meetings and so
on until the Nth guest has N-1 meetings.

So the total number of meetings is: 1+2+...+N-1

We can simplify this to: N*(N-1)/2. If we write the same series in re-
The downloadable pdf tells the story of an
unhappy mistake on Christmas Eve. The verse order underneath and add them together we get:
(1+(N-1))+(2+(N-2)+(3+N-3)... +(N-1+1)
elves have accidentally wrapped Santas
which gives us N + N + N ... or N-1 lots of N. Since we have
dirty socks up with 1024 roller skates! Told
added two series we then need to divide by 2, hence N*(N-1)/2.
in a child friendly poem, the pdf provides
Each meeting takes place sequentially, so the time is proportional to N*
illustrations that could be used as slides to
(N-1)/2, which is roughly N2 as N gets big.
accompany a class reading. If you prefer
to have the story narrated for you a video
is available too. Now, in contrast, think about a sporting event between two teams, say
the Blues and the Reds, each with N/2 players. Before the match, the
The solution in the story points out that Blues line up and the Reds walk down the line, shaking hands with each
when there are 1024 boxes to test, instead Blue in turn. The 1st Red shakes hand with the 1st Blue. Then the 1st Red
of having to open all of them until the shakes hand with the 2nd Blue while the 2nd Red shakes hands with the
socks are found, one half can be eliminat-
ed at a time, and repeatedly halving the
problem very quickly narrows it down to
one box (the size of the problem starts at
1024, then with one weighing there are
512 boxes, then 256, 128, 64, 32, 16, 8, 4,
2 and 1.) This idea comes up frequently in
the design of fast computer algorithms.

Youll find the resources on their website


csunplugged.org/divideAndConquer/. This
also includes a list of suggestions for fol-
low up points to develop in class discus-
sions after the pupils have heard the story. 1st Blue player, and so on. When the 1st Red has shaken hands with the
last Blue, time proportional to N/2 has passed. Note that, at this point,
If you are new to the idea, these provide a
model approach for developing pupils un- the last Red has also shaken hands with the 1st Blue. When the last Red
has shaken hands with the last Blue, a further time proportional to N/2-
derstanding by encouraging a deeper
1 has passed.
grasp of the concepts through a series of
overlapping questions. There are ques-
In total, thats time proportional to: N/2+N/2-1 == N-1
tions too for mathematically able students
to consider which generalise the solution
to look at n boxes. Roger Davies We can do even better than this. Suppose the Reds forms a circle round
the Blues with the players facing each other. Then, each Red shakes
SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 10
Divide and Conquer is a very useful tech-
nique when we can repeatedly decompose
(divide) a problem into smaller and smaller
identical but independent sub-problems,
whose results are then combined
hands with the opposite Blue, and the Reds moves round one player in, (conquer) to find the overall solution. The
say, a clockwise direction. Now theyve taken time proportional to N/2. big benefit is that each sub-problem can
be solved in parallel, by recursively apply-
But if we try this with our original event with N guests, and split the ing Divide and Conquer.
guests into two groups of N/2, then, at the end of the process, half have
met the other half, but the guests in each half havent met each other.

Lets apply the same process to each half, so next well have two circles,
each with N/4 guests facing N/4 guests, shaking hands in parallel,
with an overall time proportional to N/4.

Algorithmic examples that make use of the


technique include mergesort and quick-
sort. For both algorithms, an unordered
group is decomposed into more and more
pairs of smaller and smaller unordered sub
-groups. Ultimately, there are lots of pairs
of sub-groups of one element, which by
definition are ordered. The sub-groups are
then recombined to form larger and larger
ordered sub-groups, until the whole group
is ordered. Note that, in practice, imple-
We can then halve again, and well have four circles of N/8 guests, tak- menting a Divide and Conquer algorithm in
ing time proportional to N/8. Continuing the process until we just have parallel may not give any speed-up if the
pairs of guests meeting, the total time is proportional to: communication outweighs the processing.
N/2+N/4+N/8... You can find out more about the Divide
and Conquer pattern at bit.ly/1S0yIBT
If we consider summing successive terms we get:
N/2; 3N/4; 7N/8; 15N/16...
Greg Michaelson is a Professor of Computer
which tends to N.
Science at Herriot-Watt University in Edin-
burgh. He was a member of the Qualifica-
In Computational Thinking terms, weve repeatedly decomposed a prob-
tions Development Team for the new Scottish
lem at each stage into two identical but smaller problems at the next
Qualifications Agency (SQA) Curriculum for
stage, stopping when we cant decompose any further. And all the prob-
Excellence for Computing Science. Were
lems at each level can be solved by the same algorithm in parallel. That
delighted that Greg will be writing a regular
is, we have found that a divide and conquer pattern that applies to the column for SWITCHEDON in the future. For
problem.
those unfamiliar with his work, a good intro-
duction might be a twenty minute talk he
As an exercise write a program in your favourite language to animate the
gave to colleagues in Scotland about Compu-
N people meeting each other, for the sequential, two teams and full di-
tational Thinking. See bit.ly/1IL2ERq.
vide and conquer cases.
11 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
Charlotte Knee

Sydney Padua, graphic artist, animator


and author of The Thrilling Adventures Of
Lovelace and Babbage outlines the role of
Ada in the birth of scientific computing.
The woman most often known as Ada Lovelace was born Ada Gordon
in 1815, sole child of the brief and tempestuous marriage of the erratic
poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, and his mathematics-loving wife An-
nabella Milbanke.

Fearing that Ada would inherit her fathers volatile poetic temperament,
her mother raised her under a strict regimen of science, logic, and math-
ematics. Ada herself from childhood had a fascination with machines
designing fanciful boats and steam flying machines, and poring over the
Even though the Difference and Analytical diagrams of the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution that filled the
Engines were never completed, Ada Love- scientific magazines of the time.
lace experimented with writing sequences
of instructions. She noted At the age of 19 she was married to an aristocrat, William King; when
the value of tech- King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838 his wife became Lady Ada
niques such as sub- King, Countess of Lovelace. She is generally called Ada Lovelace, which
routines, loops and is a little incorrect but saves confusion! She had three children.
jumps that remain at
the heart of pro- In 1833, Lovelaces mentor, the scientist and polymath Mary Sommer-
gramming today. ville, introduced her to Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of
As a Mathemati- Mathematics who had already attained considerable celebrity for his
cian, Ada was visionary and perpetually unfinished plans for gigantic clockwork calcu-
excited about the lating machines.
possibility of au-
tomating labori- Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace both had somewhat unconventional
ous calcula- personalities and became close and lifelong friends. Babbage described
tions. But she her as that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the
was far more most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force which few
interested in masculine intellects could have exerted over it, or an another occasion,
the principles underly- as The Enchantress of Numbers.
ing the programming of these devices.
She died at a tragically young age. Had
she not died so young what might have
been possible?
Finding Ada (findingada.com) will be think would fascinate Ada Love-
organising the annual Ada Lovelace lace about the technology of today
Sydney Paduas beautifully quirky book is
Day on 13th October, an internation- (remembering of course that
unique. A real labour of love, it imagines
al event designed to celebrate the words like smartphone would
what might have happened had the Differ-
achievements of women in STEM. mean nothing to her). More details
ence Engine been completed. On one lev-
Sign up to their mailing list to be can be found on their website:
el a humorous cartoon tale but it contains
kept informed of activities planned www.tnmoc.org/ada/enter.
much, much more. Extensive footnotes,
for that day. October 13th is also the The next issue of cs4fn will have a
supplementary explanation and a wealth of
closing date for a competition aimed special focus on Ada Lovelace.
historical detail provide a thorough insight
at teenage girls, organised by The Make sure you receive copies for
into ideas behind logic and computation so
National Museum of Computing and your school (see back page).
readers gain a deep understanding along
University of Oxford in conjunction
the way. There will no doubt be a flurry of
with cs4fn at Queen Mary Universi- The 200th anniversary of the birth of
new books to mark Adas bicentenary. I
ty, London. The competition asks Ada Lovelace falls on 10th Decem-
doubt any will top this. Roger Davies
entrants to show or tell what they ber this year. The bicentenary is a

SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
Whilst the Science Museum has a working Differ-
ence Engine, built to Babbages design, the unfin-
ished Analytical Engine is difficult to visualise. Yet it
is the first design for a programmable computer,
created in 1840. Having researched the fine details
Sydney Padua has produced some wonderful ani-
mations outlining the principles on which it works.
You can find more details at bit.ly/1OldXQf.

Lovelace was deeply intrigued by Babbages plans for a tremendously


complicated device he called the Analytical Engine, which was to com-
bine the array of adding gears of his earlier Difference Engine with an
elaborate punchcard operating system. It was never built, but the design
had all the essential elements of a modern computer. It is one thing to appreciate the historical
role played by Ada Lovelace, quite another
In 1842 Lovelace translated a short article describing the Analytical En- to convey it to a young teenage audience
gine by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, for publication in Eng- so it can excite and
land. Babbage asked her to expand the article, as she understood the enthuse. Published in
machine so well. The final article is over three times the length of the 2002, Lucy Leth-
original and contains several early computer programs, as well as strik- bridges wonderful
ingly prescient observations on the potential uses of the machine, includ- account of her life
ing the manipulation of symbols and creation of music. does just that. In
just under 80 pag-
Although Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for his es, Lethbridge situ-
engine before, Lovelaces are the most elaborate and complete, and the ates Ada Love-
first to be published; so she is often referred to as the first computer laces pioneering
programmer. Babbage himself spoke highly of her mathematical pow- work with Charles
ers, and of her peculiar capability higher he said than of any one he Babbage in the
knew, to prepare the descriptions connected with his calculating ma- context of the
chine. stultifying
norms of Victo-
Ada Lovelace died of cancer at 36, a few short years after the publica- rian England.
tion of Sketch of the Analytical Engine, with Notes from the Translator.
What runs through this short
The Analytical Engine remained a vision, until Lovelaces notes became
biography is her frantic energy and rebel-
one of the critical documents to inspire Alan Turings work on the first
lious spirit, told in a personal style which
modern computers in the 1940s. Her thwarted potential, and her passion
will resonate with many. The Analytical
and vision for technology, have made her a powerful symbol for modern
Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as
women in technology.
the Jaquard loom weaves flowers and
leaves, wrote Ada, as ever making perfect
poetic sense out of mathematics Imag-
ine how it must have been for the Victori-
chance to raise awareness in ans who first read Menebrea. As children
schools of the key role many wom- they had lived in a world with no rail-
en, not just Ada, have played in the ways Now this book explained that it
development of Computer Science. was possible to build a machine that could
For too long, many of their achieve- operate like a human mind. Some feared
ments have been hidden from histo- that it was an abuse of nature, an outrage
ry, yet women have been at the against God, to suggest that machines
forefront of developments in Compu- could think No wonder Menebrea made
ting from the outset. How about get- Ada so notoriousespecially since women
ting your students to do a school in that era were not supposed to under-
assembly on that day? A great place stand science and mathematics, let alone
to them to start to get ideas for write books about them. Winner of the
themes is the cs4fn special and sup- Blue Peter Book Award, many second
porting webpages which can be hand copies are still available. It is worth
found at www.cs4fn.org/women. checking your school library has copies.

SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
Part of making sure the new curriculum is
enthusiastically received by students is to
ensure it is fully supported through enrich- Subject knowledge is but a small part of
ment activities. Here are some of the activ- teaching. Paul Powell, Computing HoD at
ities used in the past year at Sunbury Man- George Mitchell School, London shares his
or School. A writing competition run in con- experience of learning how to convey ideas.
junction with the English and Science de-
partments to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day As someone who transferred into teaching from industry Ive had an in-
helped to raise the profile of women in teresting time with the new curriculum. I have the subject knowledge, but
Computing and to get students to appreci- how best to share it? Im not much of a theorist but I want what works in
ate past and present female achievements in practice for me and my classes. Accordingly Ive been experimenting.
in STEM. Whilst training to teach I quickly found out that subject knowledge
doesnt count for anything if you cant share it. Being used to being
A Science and Computing trip to the Big around software engineers and other professionals I was quite unpre-
Bang Fair meant students had a go at pared for making myself understood to a bright 14 year old, let alone an
Python programming on a Raspberry Pi 11 year old with EAL and a short attention span.
and found out what it was like to be an
engineer. They measured the radioactivity At first I simplified my language; my mentor gave me lists of words that I
of various sample materials found in the used in a lesson that most of the class didnt understand. By the end of
home with the Nuclear Institute, under- my training I still slipped up occasionally, but I could usually tell when Id
standing how a nuclear reactor works us- confused them and I could go back and simplify it. But simplification was
ing a virtual reactor simulator on a PC. not good enough. Some terms are critical and enable students to think
They designed and built rockets using about the subject clearly. I asked pupils to explain their entirely valid
plastic, paper and sticky tape looking at solutions to a problem. They could create, but they couldnt explain how
how changes to fin size, shape and num- they worked. I was shocked. I now see building student confidence to
bers affect how the rocket flies. This talk about programming as one of the main drivers towards success.
helped students appreciate common terms
such as variables. Another Science and I set code comprehension exercises to get them to explain programs to
Computing trip to the Science Museum peers and the class. I get them to be very explicit: I insist that they say
visited the Computing Gallery and saw The the variable a is set to the value of b plus one rather than a equals
Difference Engine. b+1.This language guides how they think about each statement and
sets them up for the killer question: if the input is 5, what is the output
Our students have also and why? This helps them to think through a sequence, putting all
visited The National Muse- the ideas together.
um of Computing, which
has given them a sense of To further enhance the amount of talk I asked them to attempt these
history about Computing, exercises in pairs. Not only were they talking about what the code did
looking at punched card they were having arguments about it! Having several hypotheses (note
systems, and the analogue to self introduce the word hypothesis to class in the context of cod-
computing, Colossus and ing) meant that they were becoming more interested in what the code
Tunny galleries. They be- did than what it should do. Before this pupils modified code according to
gan to appreciate the role a theory before testing to see if the theory was correct. When this failed
of women in code breaking to correct the program they left the change in and formed a new theory.
during the war. Rinse repeat. Now they are starting to be more careful, more deliberate
and ultimately more successful. The experiment continues
Additionally we have involved our faculty
The graded code cognition exercises in
governor and other outside agencies to
Python can be found on the CAS Com-
come into school and run one off events
munity at resources/3542. Print the
for our students such as HTML program-
PowerPoint in handout view (3 per slide
ming workshops. Through offering these
with a space for them to write) and
activities outside of the curriculum we have
give them to pairs/groups. Ask them
broaden the horizons of our students and,
to write the output and why. After 10
as a result had a good uptake of Compu-
minutes pairs are asked to explain the
ting at GCSE level. Beverly Clarke
code to the class.

SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 14
Ian Crosby, who teaches at Hills Road Sixth Form
College, Cambridge urges you to stretch your A course in algorithms and pro-
brightest students by encouraging them to en- gramming for teachers, adapted
ter the British Informatics Olympiad (BIO). from an exemplar for CAS Master
Teachers at UCL, is in develop-
This well-established competition lets questions. Students can use any pro-
ment. It is an attempt to harness
students demonstrate and develop gramming language for this round.
the small but growing body of
problem-solving and programming
computing pedagogy derived from
skills, and they could end up repre- The exam is marked by you, the
published research, classroom
senting Great Britain at the Interna- teacher, but this is quite quick as the
experience and action research
tional Olympiad for Informatics. mark scheme is based on test data
across KS2 to 4. The course con-
and functionality: you dont even need
sists of a repository of 20 work-
The first round of the BIO is a three- to look at the code.
books for teachers, with accompa-
hour programming exam, run in your
nying worksheets for
own school or college at a time con- All students who take part get a certifi-
students, free for
venient for you in December. This cate of participation; there are merit
you to view, down-
round consists of three questions, the and distinction certificates for those
load, use and
first of which is accessible to any stu- who do well and the top fifteen in the
adapt under a Cre-
dent with programming experience: country are invited to the second
ative Commons
each year several of our Year 12 stu- round in Cambridge at Easter. This
non-commercial
dents enter after less than a term of round is really challenging, way be-
license. There
the AS Computing course. yond my ability, and the very best are
are two free sev-
The box above gives an example of selected for the national team and get
en-meeting
Two words are anagrams of each other if they can both be formed by rear- training courses
ranging the same combination of letters. For example, GADGET and planned, to be
TAGGED are anagrams because they both contain one occurrence of delivered by the team at UCL: for
each of the letters A, D, E and T, and two occurrences of the letter G. Primary teachers in October/
November; and for Secondary
Write a program which inputs two words and teachers in February/March 2016
then prints Anagrams if they are anagrams of The courses and materials are
each other, or prints Not anagrams otherwise. sponsored by the Google CS4HS
Your program should then terminate. award. Details will be available on
ispython.com with registration
question 1 (from the 2006 paper). The an all-expenses-paid trip to an exotic
through the CAS Community.
other two questions are much tougher location in the summer for the Interna-
and require good maths skills and tional Olympiad for Informatics.
The first pathway is a blend of
more experience. We prepare our
tried and tested pedagogical
students by running student-led You can find more information about
method with new approaches de-
lunchtime workshops during the au- the BIO, and register to take part, at
rived from, and guided by, re-
tumn term, working together on past http://www.olympiad.org.uk/.
search sources. It investigates, in
an innovative way (making use of
the simple sprite/turtle concept),
Many colleagues have reported successfully using the the understanding of the simple
Primary QuickStart materials with Secondary teachers. geometry of regular shapes, lead-
The QuickStart guide provides an excellent grounding ing to student creation of unique
for any teacher new to the concepts involved in Compu- patterns. No prior programming
ting. Designed to be used collaboratively, the resources knowledge is assumed, as the
could form the basis of some excellent introductory ses- process of solving problems is
sions, perhaps organised via local CAS Hubs. All materi- explored, using a novel unplugged
als are free. The booklets come with supporting re- programming approach prior to,
sources on CD. Details of your nearest local distributor and alongside, Scratch 2.0
can be found from the website: quickstartcomputing.org. and/or Python 3. Dave White

15 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
When assessing artefacts in Computing we can consider them and the Computa-
tional Thinking involved in relation to the ideas of why, how and what. Adopt-
ing this approach makes the evaluation and grading process much easier argues
Mark Dorling, formerly the National CPD co-ordinator for the Network of Excellence.
It is possible to assess computational thinking through the model de-
The overarching goal of the 2014 Compu-
scribed in the sidebar, but we must first consider four practical things:
ting National Curriculum is to provide A
in assessing computational thinking, is the whole more important than
high-quality computing education [that]
assessing the parts?
equips [learners] to use computational
how to combine formative and summative assessment effectively,
thinking and creativity to understand and
having sufficient time to understand the intervention needed,
change the world.
using assessment to maximise interventions (support) for learners.
With an ambitious and challenging curricu-
Given sufficient time in the classroom with learners, formative assess-
lum, and without much statutory guidance,
ment can be an incredible useful tool; observing and discussing how
assessment of the subject knowledge con-
they developed a particular understanding of a problem. How learners
tent can be, for many, challenging enough.
explain, demonstrate and justify the process they went through will pro-
But moving forwards, as the subject beds
vide a snap shot of how learners applied computational thinking (CT) to
into the curriculum the question for many
the given problem. This is no guarantee they will demonstrate the same
is, can you assess computational thinking?
competency, applying the same CT skills to future activities though.
If so, how?

It will take time to adapt and review current


ways, or develop new ways of tracking and
reporting progression, and for school re-
porting systems to change and adapt. So
how do you start preparing these systems
for the change to the curriculum, including
identifying computational thinking opportu-
nities? How do you track, measure, reward
and report progression of computational
thinking skills?

The Winter 2014 issue of SwitchedON


highlighted the philosophical change in the
focus of the curriculum from what to
why and how, and introduced the plan-
ning cycle outlined in the CAS Computa-
Rather, it is important to build a holistic understanding how the learner
tional Thinking Framework. We can evalu-
applies CT skills to a range of classroom activities, in addition to looking
ate the artefact produced on three levels:
at a particular use of skills for a specific classroom activity. One way of
against the hook of the project (why) e.g. achieving this is through recording the CT opportunities for a range of
is the artefact produced fit for purpose.
activities. It is good practice to assess and record attainment from activi-
consider the artefact for the subject con- ties via the artefacts produced. Over time it is possible to identify pat-
tent knowledge (what) and then compare
terns in the sort of activities learners struggle to complete (or vice versa).
this against the aims of the planned learn-
By recording the association between the activity and the CT opportuni-
ing journey (unit of study).
ties, it is possible to identify the computational thinking skills where
demonstration of the functional skills learners appear to be weaker.
(how) and the computational thinking skills
(how) that will have been applied to pro-
This holistic understanding of the learners computational thinking abili-
duce the artefact and the subject
ties makes formative assessment more useful to predict the kind of ac-
knowledge learnt, through the learners
tivities where the learner is likely to struggle, e.g. abstraction. In turn that
explanation or justification for why they did
makes any intervention more targeted and in time this should reflect in
what they did.
an improvement in the learners capability and attainment (grades).
SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 16
Computational Thinking has relevance in
many fields. Aida Martinez, Program Manager, Attending my first CAS conference
Google UK outlines a new resource that explores in June, it occurred to me that two
what it is and why it is important. Open University projects could be
useful resources for teachers and
Computational Thinking, another new to see patterns across the curriculum,
KS5 students.
trend? Yes and no. For some it is making connections between siloed
new, but for some of you it has always subject areas and applying tools
In The Jewels of Heuro
been lurking in the background of your learned in one discipline to another.
(bit.ly/1GjLrc2) the aim is to quick-
subject area, though unnamed. A new The nice part about this course is that
ly collect gems before the zom-
course (bit.ly/1Mu2Abi) explores what it helps to enhance what you already
bies catch us. Its a free interac-
it is and why it is important in your do and teach in your classroom.
tive activity that explains what
classroom.
algorithms and heuristics are, and
This course will not teach you every-
how to measure the efficiency of
Professional development is hard be- thing about Computational Thinking,
an algorithm. Its a light and play-
cause, as a mission-driven educator, This course will, however, define CT,
ful introduction to advanced con-
you want to be better at your craft show you how to integrate it into your
cepts, like big-O notation, the
especially as teaching quality is one of curriculum, and provide you with op-
Travelling Salesman Problem, and
the most impacting factors in student portunities to explore more examples
the fundamental P = NP question.
achievement. But its also required by of CT integrated into specific subject
schools, time-consuming and not al- areas. And if you dont have time to
ways practical. The toughest part is create new CT-integrated materials,
that it often requires you to do addi- the course will direct you to many of
tional work and spend extra time to CT-integrated resources made by oth-
improve your classroom, when you er teachers who have already done
dont have enough time as it is. some of this work in various disci-
plines and subject areas.
We would love to say that this course
will be a course that requires no extra The course will also connect you to
work on the part of educators, but we other educators and subject matter
cant say that. We can say that the experts in a community where you can A short MOOC: Learn to Code for
work you do will be integration work - ask questions, collaborate, and share Data Analysis, to start 26th Octo-
how to integrate computational think- new resources. Additionally, CAS will ber, could also be useful to Maths
ing into your arts class, maths class, be developing resources later this and Science teachers and their A-
language class, biology class. Mathe- year that will be blended with this level students. The MOOC, which
matics, science, the humanities - all online course to help CAS Master assumes no prior coding or data
subject areas can benefit from stu- Teachers teach and support teachers analysis experience, introduces
dents and teachers who begin to think who must teach the new UK compu- Python and its application to data
computationally. Students can begin ting curriculum. If you are a teacher science. It teaches participants
who is teaching the new how to write short programs, one
computing curricula, but line at a time, that can load in data
you feel you need some files, clean, filter and transform the
help, guidance, or instruc- data, compute simple statistics,
tion, computational think- and produce common charts (e.g.
ing will give your students line charts). The course uses in-
the processes and skills teractive Jupyter notebooks with
they need to design and explanatory text and code that can
develop algorithms. The be edited in a browser. Notebooks
course helps differentiate can be shared publicly, promoting
between computer sci- reproducible data analysis. For
ence and computational more information and to register
thinking and introduces see bit.ly/1g6kGlZ.
you to the latter. Michel Wermelinger

17 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
Do you wish there was a way of incorporating sophisticated con-
cepts in programming in non threatening ways? Darren Travi and
John Stout illustrate how BYOB builds on familiarity with Scratch,
but can be used to teach concepts to A Level and beyond.
BYOB (Build Your Own Blocks) and Snap! are versions of Scratch
which let you build your own blocks (procedures or functions) which can
To get a feel for the BYOB interface here's then be used in exactly the same way as the standard blocks (see the
how to create a block to draw a rectangle sidebar for a simple example) and as such it is a good stepping stone
on the screen. between building logic and text based programming. There are many
In the Variables category, ways key ideas and constructs can be developed through BYOB. Take a
select Make a block. program like a Unit Convertor which converts seconds into minutes.
Decide which category There are quite a few concepts associated with abstraction involved in
should hold the new block developing a program such as this. The program
(I've chosen Motion), then below illustrates how a variable can be passed
type in a description of into a function, enabling it to return a value.
the new block. It's going
to be a command not a
reporter (function), or
predicate (function re-
turning true or false), and
it will be useful For all sprites.
Both these
In the Block Editor win- examples are
dow you can change any of Reporter
word to an Input name To take a more complicated example such as a lottery blocks, These
act as
(i.e., a parameter). By program to generate 7 ran- functions. to
clicking on the spaces dom numbers. Here a func- return (report)
tion checks to see whether values.
between words (shown as + signs) you
can add new Input names or Title text into a number has already been
the description. When showing students selected.
how to write procedures I start by leaving
using the sample values, then rename
them to something more sensible like
width and height.
Drag existing blocks from One the real great things
the Pen and Motion cate- about BYOB is that it is easy
gories to produce a final to transition to text based
definition, filling in the programming. It is possible
values for the move () to pseudocode programs
steps command by from BYOB and for pupils to
dragging and dropping attempt to put together the
the width and height pa- logic in a text based language. In many ways it is the stepping between
rameters. the idea of dragging out blocks and a textual based language. We have
Click OK and the draw a rectangle (width) found from experience that BYOB helps develop pupils computational
wide & (height) high will now be availa- thinking, logic and problem solving skills so they are a lot more confident
ble alongside the existing blocks in the with algorithmic planning, the bedrock of most courses beyond KS3.
Motion category. BYOB 3.1.1 was the last standard BYOB version from University
The atomic checkbox guarantees that the of California, Berkeley. It introduced much functionality not available in
code will run completely without other Scratch. If you have used Scratch 1 it is backward compatible. Down-
scripts running: this has the side effect that load from byob.berkeley.edu Snap! is the current version of BYOB
graphics will run more quickly although written in Javascript to run in a browser, so no installation required. Try
only display when the script finishes. it at snap.berkeley.edu

SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 18
You can design your own language in BYOB/Snap! Because it supports func-
tional programming (treating procedures and functions as first class values, just
like integers or strings) we can create new Control blocks, not just new Motion
or Looks blocks. This is a powerful tool, so rather than asking What's the best
programming language for x? we can design language constructs that are ideal
for x. The examples below give a flavour of the possibilities. Editing an input
name gives the options shown. They allow you to restrict the type (and shape)
of the slot used for the input. To use the simple Rectangle example (far left) you
could ensure that width and height were Number inputs (you could also give
each input a default value).
To define new control structures we can use the C-shape type of input.
For example, conditions using not are often difficult to build/understand,
so we can define an unless <> do [] block instead. This could be
placed in the Control category, and function like if <not <>> [].
The inputs are called this (of type Boolean) and something (of type C-
shape). The only new thing we need is the run [] block, which runs the
code given as the parameter something (it can be as many blocks long
as you like). You can change the title text of the block to any other word-
ing as long as you keep the test and the block parameters, e.g. unless <this> do [something].

The techniques below are intend to show how useful defining your own language using functional programming can be
for teaching. If you want to teach simulations, for which the Taking chances blocks are useful, you could get the stu-
dents to import a project with just those blocks defined before they start. Similarly if you want do shape manipulation,
you could write a project with square (), rectangle () by (), line from ((),()) to ((),()) and
circle centred at ((),()) with radius () blocks defined.

Students can simulate throwing a die, The draw a rectangle ... block used as To do something using every ele-
or tossing a coin, by picking a random the opening introductory example (see ment of a string we can define a
number between 1 and 6 (or 1 and 2). far left sidebar) does have a slight for () in () do [] block.
Having tested the value to see if it's problem: if the sprite's direction is up
the number or numbers required, then rather than right when it is called,
some action can be defined. The width becomes the height and vice
steps are complicated and can over- versa. We can address that too.
whelm students with the detail re-
quired when all they want to do is Amending the block so that it saves
throw a die. Why not develop a the direction, draws the shape, then
Taking Chances block? Using the C- restores the direction would be one
shape inputs define a with a () in approach but that would need imple-
() chance do [] block, as shown. menting for every other shape block
too. A better alternative might be to
Note that the first input name
define a save state block, such as
(character) must have the Make
the save state, do [], then
internal variable visible to caller
restore as shown.
radio button selected (see input
types above). Call it like this:
Alternatively, if students are thinking in
terms of percentages, then define
with a () percent chance do []

A similar block for list traversal


would be needed as BYOB uses
different commands to do this.

19 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
Lyndsay Hope, Wye Borders Hub Leader asks what
our students have in common with Babylonians,
Greeks, and Persians? Curiosity, or a desire to in-
novate and build something better? Exploded view of the Antikythera mechanism

We are at the pointy-end of a spiral of Developments continued in diverse cul- ratic equations. He was a prolific writ-
innovation spanning generations, cul- tures around the globe. Indian mathe- er on algebra, astronomy and geogra-
tures and continents and todays stu- maticians started using zero, which had phy whose arithmetic work precipitat-
dents are the next in a long line of also been identified by the Babylonians. ed the use of Arabic numerals in the
innovators. The Babylonians, living The binary system, forming the basis of Western world. These were derived
c2400BC in todays Iraq, are thought modern computing, was described c300 from the Hindu-Arabic system devel-
to have invented the first calculator, BC by the Indian mathematician Pinga- oped in Indian mathematics, again
the Abacus, to aid their arithmetic. la. In c100BC Chinese mathematicians demonstrating one cultures develop-
The abacus was developed separate- used negative numbers. ment supporting anothers. The word
ly and with increasing sophistication in algorithm comes from his Latinized
China and Japan, supporting complex Heron of Alexandria, a prolific inven- name, Algoritmi. The House of Wis-
calculation processing at very high tor, developed sequence control in dom supported Al Kindi, a cryptog-
speeds. Babylonians, c1600BC, also c60AD where an operator would run a raphy pioneer, who developed fre-
created the first algorithms for factori- machine with sequences of determin- quency and cryptanalysis algorithms
zation and finding square roots.Their istic instructions, similar to a Turing and wrote A Manuscript on Decipher-
legacy fuelled innovation in other cul- Machine. Some consider this the first ing Cryptographic Messages, with
tures. In around 500BC the Indian computer program. His innovations in algorithms on breaking encryptions
grammarian Pini developed the automata were some of the earliest and ciphers. Extraordinary work was
grammar of Sanskrit with 3959 rules, steps in robotics. Hypatia of Alexan- done at Bletchley Park, but the foun-
using recursion and transformations, dria c370AD, a female mathematician dations were laid long before.
foreshadowing todays formal lan- and teacher, developed the astrolabe
guage theory where Backus-Naur which was used for navigation until The Banu Musa brothers, teachers
form is similarly used to describe the sextant arrived in the 16th century. and mathematicians, also studied in
modern programming languages. the House of Wisdom. These schol-
Around 800AD the innovation baton ars, inspired by Chinese, Indian and
Greek academia continued where passed to the Persians with Caliph Persian engineering, wrote the Book
Babylonians had led, with problem Harun al-Rashid, and later his son, of Ingenious Devices on automatic
solving in many forms including Eu- establishing the House of Wisdom in machines and mechanical devices,
clids seven volumes on geometry and Baghdad. This centre for learning, which in turn helped inspire subse-
algorithms. Euclids Algorithm c300BC translating and research gathered quent cultures including, through
calculates the greatest common divi- learned Jewish, Persian and Christian Spain, those in Europe.
sor of two numbers, just one item from scholars who from 9th to 13th centuries
his huge body of innovation. Greeks translated scientific and philosophical So, there is nothing new under the
also gave us the Sieve of Eratosthe- Greek texts into Arabic making the sun the robotics we explore now
nes, the first algorithm to identify learning of the Greeks accessible to were conceived of millennia ago, and
prime numbers. Meanwhile the Antiky- Arabic cultures too. Around 820AD, algorithms, the buzzword of the mo-
thera mechanism, thought to be the the Persian mathematician Muham- ment, have been around even longer.
first analogue computer, could track mad ibn Ms al-wrizm described But there is a wealth of opportunity
relative positions of heavenly bodies. algorithms for solving linear and quad- here to explore cultural development,
history, geography, maths, religious,
Stephen Wolfram (CEO, Stephen Wolfram, LLC
economic and political advances. In
Wolfram Research) charts
the rise of the data civilisa- the next issue well see where these
tion at bit.ly/1dZeB9N. The cultures led, in beginning this spiral of
plot shows the number of innovation that others followed. The
events per decade and per
century. The article also momentum they started continues to
has a link to purchase (5) grow, its invention underpins much of
a wonderful 1.5m timeline our global society today, and inspires
- ideal for your classroom.
the next generation of creators.
SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 20
After 23 years serving as a Military Engineer in the
Army, Martin Fletcher moved into teaching. His sto- Teachers are using icould.com as
ry of facing up to the challenge of AS Computing a way of making the leap from
should give heart to others in a similar position. classroom learning to the world of
work and careers especially with
In 2001, I was fortunate to land a job At the end of the 2012-13 academic
students who are choosing their
at our local 6th form college covering 6 year our sole Computing teacher took
GCSE and A Level options.
month maternity leave, teaching ICT. voluntary redundancy. With some
My main qualification for the post was trepidation I agreed to takeover the
The website features over a thou-
life experiences. My last 2 years in AS provision. Whilst there had been
sand videos of people telling their
the Armed Forces had been with a some significant changes since I had
personal career stories in their
Territorial Unit as the Regular Soldier last taught it I had no doubt in my abil-
own words. From Technical Spe-
responsible for ensuring all training ity to learn content I had not covered
cialists and IT Architects at IBM to
happened to the same exacting stand- before. For both self-study and teach-
Graphics Artists and Software
ards required by the Regular Army. I ing Logic Gates I used Atanua
Engineers, icoulds videos can
took it upon myself to cobble together (sol.gfxile.net/atanua). De Morgans
help young people in seeing Com-
an in house MIS System using MS law was learned via YouTube and the
puting as key to their future career
Access to be used by commanders rest covered in an Open University
prospects.
planning soldiers training require- Unit, M150 or the excellent resources
ments. shared through CAS and the A-Level
Computing WikiBook.
On the 1st September 2001, there
should have been 3 new staff in the M150 was, however causing appre-
department but the teacher of Compu- hension. Whilst I had excelled on the-
ting failed to show. At this point in my oretical assignments, the Introduction
teaching career that I discovered that to Programming had proven to be my
being flexible and dynamic was as Achilles Heel. Lack of debugging facil-
important in education as it had been ities in JavaScript meant many a frus-
in the army. As part of my getting trated evening looking at a blank win-
ready to be a civilian I had completed dow with no idea as to which comma
a 10-week course in networks and or semi-colon was incorrect. I feared Bring learning to life with films that
networking and a City and Guilds this would manifest itself whilst teach- give practical examples of careers
course in computer maintenance. ing programming. As it transpired, my in the Computers and IT category.
Armed with these qualifications I was fears were not realised. The outgoing You can use the Labour Market
asked if I would also teach the theory teacher had left comprehensive notes Information below each video to
side of the AS Computing course! on the use of VB.Net. With the guid- start discussions about average
ance of a close colleague, hours of salary, skills and qualifications,
The next 12 months was a learning practice and a re-write of the re- predicted employment and more.
packed whirlwind. Binary Trees, never sources to suite my delivery, students
heard of. Normalisation, never heard had no idea I was only ever one step There are also helpful articles
of. Id covered hexadecimal in school ahead of them. about Computing related careers
23 years previously but forgotten it. that you can share with your class
Armed with Understanding Computer Whilst unorthodox, it worked very well. as well as free classroom re-
Science by Ray Bradley, and aided It meant that resources were always sources to download.
by a very understanding wife, I set fresh and had been tried and tested
about grasping the key concepts of the previous Sunday. It also meant I If you would like to know more
the AS syllabus. Helped by some ex- could adapt delivery to better support then join the icould Networking
ceptionally supportive colleagues I got the range of abilities. As with all Group on LinkedIn. Signing up for
to the point where I could deliver the things, the effectiveness of a strategy the newsletter here brings news
course with confidence. I was there- is reflected in the results. It is with on new resources for teachers, or
fore greatly saddened when declining some degree of pride that I can say you can get in touch directly at
numbers meant I would not be teach- 2013-14 saw a significant improve- info@icould.org.uk Ruth Mulcare
ing it the following year. ment in results.
21 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
A number of primary and secondary col-
leagues interested in getting involved with
small research projects in schools have In just its second year the CAS(NI) conference reached its
come together in a pilot project set to run maximum capacity of 100 people and offered 13 different
through this academic year. A small breakout workshops to delegates. Irene Bell reports on
amount of funding has been secured to another stimulating day.
foster the pilot project which involves bud-
dying up with some of our CAS academics, I had a really good feeling about the conference and felt that for the first
learning a bit about how to carry out some time in two years we were actually getting somewhere. These were the
action research in school, carrying out re- encouraging words in an email received the day after the conference
search with a group of other teachers, and from one of the attendees. The conference took place on 19th June at
then writing up/presenting what you have Stranmillis University College. The launch was co-delivered by Emma
achieved. As the front page feature points Dunseith, Executive Producer and leader of Digital Learning at the BBC
out, a key pillar in successful professional and Mark Nagurski of CultureTECH, the Education Partner with the BBC
development is developing classroom re- in the roll out of 'Make It Digital' and the Micro:bit.
search which fosters an appreciation of the
importance of evidence based research Workshops ranged from computational thinking, for both primary and
and helps develop reflective practice. post-primary, to programming and contextualised computer science in
the Not so hard hardware workshop. This included a tour of Belfast
paying particular attention to the 5 different types of traffic lights that we
have in the city. Workshops were delivered by CAS teachers, university
staff and industrial partners. Each breakout session offered four work-
shops to teachers with a balance of Key Stages across the events and
content for both the beginner and the more experienced teacher.
Experimenting with the OTOTO circuit board
synthesizer at the CAS(NI) Conference

There is already an active higher educa-


tion community in Computing Education.
The 10th WiPSCE (Workshop in Primary
and Secondary Computing Education) will
be held on November 9th -11th at King's
College London. This is an annual interna-
tional conference with presentation of re-
search papers on many aspects of the
teaching and learning of Computing in
school. For teachers who would like to
attend, there is a special rate for a Teach-
ers' Day on Tuesday 10th November This year for the first time we invited attendees to submit posters. This
(70), where the papers presented will proved very popular with teachers using this as a networking focus. This
have most resonance for practitioners. will be something that we will continue in years to come. Teachers used
Attending WiPSCE '15 would give you a the poster sessions to discuss with colleagues how they were managing
good idea of what research is currently and implementing computing in their work. Through the posters they
being carried out and an opportunity to could see what their neighbouring schools were achieving.
meet and talk to some of the key research-
ers internationally in this field. As our sub- Another first for the NI conference was the video that we made of the
ject develops greater collaboration be- keynote session and some of the breakout workshops. The video also
tween academics and teacher practitioners includes interviews with one of the workshop leaders explaining why
can be hugely beneficial to all. More infor- computing is both crucial for our society and feasible to run in schools.
mation and a link to register can be found The number of attendees and the buzz on the day reflect the growing
at wipsce.org. Sue Sentance interest and enthusiasm of teachers in Northern Ireland to engage in
computing and sets a firm foundation stone for the work next year.
SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk 22
Most of the hubs are now well
Two years ago CAS Scotland secured funding from the Scottish
established and have almost fin-
Government to provide a locally delivered programme of profes-
ished the initial set of activities so
sional development. Peter Donaldson, the National Project Officer
whats next for PLAN C?
for PLAN C, reviews the progress made.
In creating the programme we wanted Feedback was generally very positive The main issues wed like to try to
to try to address two major develop- with one experienced teacher saying address are
ment challenges for in-service teach- that having a group of like-minded Not everyone has been able to
ers; how to focus on more effective teachers together with the same goal join in and take part in a face to
teaching (rather than just specific has given me back my motivation for face local hub. Family, work cir-
technology) and how to close the im- improving my teaching in the class- cumstances or no hub close
plementation gap. Often a teacher room. Where there were unexpected enough to them means that alter-
cant quickly implement something difficulties, or leads had suggestions, native self-study methods are
learned into their regular practice. we were able to incorporate these into probably needed.
With these aims in mind both myself the next lead teacher hub and the Theres still a huge volume of
and Professor Quintin Cutts ran a se- local hub materials. new material that could be created
ries of lead teacher hub meetings for a range of topics for each of
where we could bring together teach- the approaches that have been
ers who had applied to become leads explored in local hubs. A greater
for their local area. Every lead experi- range of exercises would make it
enced a compressed form of a re- easier for the new methods to
search informed programme over a become firmly embedded rather
period of two to three months. Meet- than ending up as an occasional
ings for these hubs were spaced out set piece.
to allow them to try out various teach- We still have a range of inter-
ing approaches with their own classes esting issues that have surfaced
and reflect on that experience. Alt- in various pieces of CS education
hough there are many different activi- research that didnt make it into
ties in the programme that help ex- our original sequence but would
plore different approaches they mostly be useful for teachers to explore
involve increasing the range of com- in more depth.
prehension methods a Computing
teacher has at their disposal. After September 2015, the re-
sponsibility for funding the ongo-
This comprehension orientated ap- After taking part in a lead teacher hub, ing work of the network will pass
proach really helps with two major groups of lead teachers are now run- from the Scottish Government to
difficulties we regularly face in Com- ning their own local hubs, using more Education Scotland, our main
puting Science namely detailed versions of the support mate- agency for supporting and improv-
its difficult to understand computa- rials. We now have 24 active hubs ing learning. We hope that both
tional systems just by example. They across Scotland with just over 270 of our Leads and local teachers will
have many hidden mechanisms that the 650 Computing teachers in Scot- continue to meet together and
are completely invisible but work in a land regularly taking part. Teachers work to transform the quality of
precisely defined way. If we develop are already noticing changes in the learning. We hope Computing will
an alternative model of how they work quality of learning. One commented come to be seen as one of the
it makes activities such as program- My pupils have already appeared to most exciting curriculum areas.
ming extremely difficult. be much more engaged. They have
completely free problem solving too enjoyed the lessons in which I have
early overloads most beginners and experimented with the new strategies.
leaves them frustrated and demoral- Next year, they will definitely have a
ised. They dont have a rich enough much better understanding. Another
background knowledge to draw on so said it was great to see kids actually
every detail, no matter how low level, discussing code and trying to work out
requires conscious mental effort. what a program is actually doing.
23 SWITCHEDON: www.computingatschool.org.uk
Seals are contributing to global
warming research by carrying bat-
tery-powered sensors on their
heads, gathering data from re-
mote and inaccessible places. The current issue of the cs4fn magazine is devoted
The non-invasive sensors, tried to multimodal design, showcasing technology de-
with sharks and turtles too, are signed to help us experience the world using com-
shed when a seal moults. The puters, but through more than one sense at once.
sensors have been affixed to at Multimodal design is also a great way to support
least 1000 seals over 10 years people with limited senses who can't hear, or see,
and were developed by St An- or smell, or taste or touch. Some people find lots
drews University Sea Mammal of sounds, sights, textures, tastes just too much, and the mag-
Research Unit. Power is limited so azine looks at how computer science might one day help them too.
software must be efficient: they
have batteries lasting around 10 This latest issue was sent free to schools just before the summer break. Two
months. Concise data is fed back issues of cs4fn are published each year. Details of how to register to receive
to researchers via satellite. hard copies can be found at www.cs4fn.org/teachers/. Past issues can also be
downloaded as pdfs from the cs4fn site. New articles are also regularly added
Meanwhile, 13 endangered North to the website. Together they provide a wealth of interesting features, written for
Atlantic right whales had their school students looking at the application of computer science.
calls recorded via sensors at-
tached to their backs with suction
caps. Analysis demonstrated that
If you are a secondary school
one type of call, an upcall, let re-
teacher, please check your
searchers identify individual
school is registered with the
whales. Whales use this call,
BBC to receive their micro:bits.
starting at low frequency but swift-
It is planned that pupils will get
ly rising, to contact other whales.
their devices towards the end
of October, with teachers re-
Moose are being tagged in Maine.
ceiving them in advance. You
They wear collars with GPS and
can keep up to date with de-
other sensors, monitoring their
velopments (and find a link to
wellbeing and feeding back when
register) at bbc.in/1JLgSne.
a moose dies. Ticks, a deadly
threat to moose, are becoming
more prevalent as Maine winters
become warmer. Ticks usually fall
off moose and die as they hit
snow, but if snow melts early ticks
begin their egg laying-cycle again.
Research continues to explore
possible links between tick popu- Computing At School was born out of our excitement with the discipline, combined with a
lations and climate change. serious concern that students are being turned off computing by a combination of factors.
SWITCHEDON is published each term. We welcome comments, suggestions and items for
inclusion in future issues. Our goal is to put the fun back into computing at school. Will you
Increasingly, animals are regard- help us? Send contributions to newsletter@computingatschool.org.uk
ed as researchers. Bird tagging
Many thanks to the following for help and information in this issue: Phil Bagge, Irene Bell,
provides migration data but mili-
Julia Briggs, Beverly Clarke, Ian Crosby, Paul Curzon, Claire Davenport, Roger Davies, Peter
tary applications use the data to Donaldson, Mark Dorling, Lorna Elkes, Miles Ellison, Martin Fletcher, Dave Honess, Lyndsay
improve missile navigation sys- Hope, Simon Humphreys, Sally Jordan, Catriona Lambeth, Aida Martinez, Greg Michaelson, Ruth
tems, raising ethical questions on Mulcare, Sydney Padua, Paul Powell, Sue Sentance, Andrew Shields, John Stout, Darren Travi,
Michel Wermelinger and Dave White.
the use of animals in research.
More information at bit.ly/1fZNhdf
and meop.net. Lyndsay Hope www.computingatschool.org.uk
Computing At School
are supported and
endorsed by: