We recently had great fun delivering a ‘squishy circuits’ workshop at Yatton Infant School. This workshop was designed for Key Stage 1 children, and as part of their STEM extra curriculum activities.
‘Squishy circuits’ teaches the children about conductive and insulated materials, and about electricity. Using my home-made conductive and insulated play dough(!), the children constructed basic electronic circuits with their fantastical creature-creations.
I loved the fact that the children were very keen to understand about LEDs, quickly learnt about their ‘polarity’, and applied this effectively on every single project they made.
Play dough is an excellent material for introducing the children to the world of electronics and we certainly had four playful (and messy) afternoons.
At coding club we always allocate time for ‘show and tell’. This usually happens near the end of a session when the children have finished their projects, and are ready to show them to the rest of the class.
I always consider this an opportunity for the children to show their pride in what they have achieved. Naturally, there are children who do not wish to show their projects to everyone but are still quietly proud of their achievements. However, I always encourage children to say something about their what they made – how the end product was produced; what was the most challenging; what characters they used; and what they would like to add next.
This is also an opportunity for the rest of the class to give feedback, and get some ideas for their own projects.
With practice, the children become more comfortable at ‘show and tell’. Younger children always get inspiration from seeing the projects of older groups… and what they can do themselves.
I encourage parents to ask their children at home about their Scratch projects and praise them for their achievements.
I have been leading coding sessions for young people for over four years. During this time I have seen children develop their computational thinking and coding skills. The children have also been exposed to hardware like the micro:bit, RaspberryPi and the Pico-board.
Lately, I have also been delivering workshops in e-Textiles at Yatton Primary School where children have learnt about basic electronics and making wearable projects.
To further continue to inspire more young people into ‘digital making’, I have launched a crowdfunding campaign to create a ‘mobile maker space’. I hope to raise the funds to purchase the hardware needed to deliver more workshops inside and outside school.
Pac-man, the arcade game created in the 80’s was our chosen project for term 6. The children created their own versions of the game by drawing their own images. It was one of the longest projects we have ever done at coding club and to my surprise, the children never showed any signs of boredom with the game. Every week, they came to coding club looking forward to add to their projects.
The Pac-man game gave the children the opportunity to practice everything they had learned throughout the year by adding more layers of complexity to the game. Some of the children chose to create their sprites in Pixil art, a program that they learned how to use at coding club.
It gave me great pleasure to see the results and I know for sure the children thoroughly enjoyed it too. Here is a small selection of the projects created.
Year 5’s and Year 6’s learned to make a chatbot with the Python programming language. The chatbot consisted of a ‘bot’ assistant that interacts with you by asking questions and giving answers based on the responses given. This is a challenging task that children can modify according to their interest. Here are some examples of chatbots talking about dinosaurs, food and scary elevators!
We use Trinket, our favourite Python online editor.
The Bitsbox interface consists of a phone simulator and a text editor, so the results can be seen straight away. A QR code can also be scanned so the apps can run on a phone or tablet. This is a great way to introduce text-based programming to young people.
In the final session of the school term the children produced some ‘spooky’ projects in Scratch, with some great animations and fun effects. The projects were completed in an hour-long session and here are some of the amusing results…