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.
The Hour of Code is a global event during the Computer Science Education Week. This year it took place from 3 – 7 December. At coding club we like participating in the Hour of Code, and this year was no exception.
The ‘Minecraft Voyage Aquatic‘ was a favourite for the children in Year 4, while the ‘Dance Party‘ was a great hit with Year 5’s and Year 6’s. We had ‘show and tell’ at the end of the session – the children performed their own dance party too!
I had the opportunity again to run some e-Textiles workshops at Yatton School as part of their Learning College programme.
This time I had twelve children – a mix of boys and girls from Year 4 to Year 6.
The brief for the children was to make a project with felt… and it had to have at least one LED that lit up with a switch. I showed the children some examples, which they used as inspiration. However, most of the children decided to make something different and we then embarked on a project that had to be designed and executed over four 90-minute sessions.
The children had to think very carefully about their designs and how the electronic components were going to fit perfectly. This thought process wasn’t easy, but once the children understood the constraints of their design, they were great at adapting them.
Once the design was put into the fabric, it was time to think about the electronic circuit – an opportunity to learn about electricity and basic electronics.
Only a handful of the children had ever done any sewing before, which meant they had to learn the basics before embarking into sewing their electronic circuit into their fabric.
With the electronic circuit in place, it was time to put the final touches to their projects… with a little bit more sewing needed to finish off their designs.
Every single project was created with a lot of thought and care. I’m so proud of every child that participated, not only did they create something very personal, but something they will appreciate and use. It was a real labour of dedication, concentration and hard work. Well done Yatton School children 🙂
Our hosts made their fantastic boardroom available to us for three mornings during a normal working week. The children turned up with their laptops and learnt to code a spooky game in Scratch, made a Minecraft zombie game, and learnt how to code the micro:bit.
The Minecraft zombie game in particular was a real hit with the children and there was a real buzz in the room with everyone adding their own ideas to the game.
The children had an opportunity to show-off their projects with a ‘show and tell’ at the end of each of the sessions. The grown-ups present were very impressed with their creations.
Thank you to all the parents that let their children attend the sessions – and a special thanks to those who supported their children during the workshops.
Finally, a big *thank you* to Viper Innovations staff for their support with the workshops and to their STEM ambassadors who were of great help – including the ‘magician’!
We hope to repeat the experience again next year!
What parents told us was the best thing about the workshops:
“My son loved everything about this workshop”
“The boys hadn’t used the micro:bit before, so it gave them a new experience in coding in a relaxed atmosphere.”
“Thought the Halloween content was great.”
“Flexibility to fit all ages and abilities”
“My son was engaged and excited… he’s looking forward to attending again.”
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.
One of the schools I work closely with had their Learning College program in late Spring. I had the opportunity to work with twelve children, who learnt the principles of electronic circuits, sewing and working collaboratively to produce an electronic bug and an interactive bookmark. It was great to see a 50:50 gender split in this workshop, which I hope to repeat again. If your school is interested, please get in touch.
The electronic bugs were made of felt and a sewn in with conductive thread that completed an electronic circuit. A switch button turned on the eyes (LEDs). In the process, the children learnt about electricity, sewing and how electronic circuits work.
We also used felt material for these bookmarks. The children sewed in a circuit with a push button behind the ‘nose’ that when pressed, lit up the cat’s eyes.
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.