Physical computing

This term the children have learnt how code plays a fundamental part in our physical world.

To demonstrate this, we used a variety of sensors which the children were able to use with the micro:bit. They used code to make a fan turn, to turn lights on and off, and to control music… among many other things.

Using the micro:bit, together with sensors, gave children the opportunity to learn about ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’, digital and analog signals.

I loved observing how playful and engaging this can be and how the children used this as an opportunity to collaborate to make stuff work.

Here is a short video of one of the activities:

Coding at Portishead library

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to run two coding workshops for primary school children at Portishead library at the start of the Easter break.

I planned the workshops – ‘Make a Minecraft Game’ and ‘Make a Pokémon game’ in Scratch – to challenge the children. I created two levels of difficulty, which meant the more advanced coders were able to create a scrollable platform game.

I only wished we had had a bit more time to go through some more coding challenges.

Thank you to all the staff at Portishead library staff for their support. We will be back soon.

If you would like a workshop at your school in Portishead – please do get in touch.

Show and Tell at coding club

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 2018

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!

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e-Textiles at Learning College

e-Textiles Projects

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 🙂

 

Autumn half-term coding

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We held some very successful coding workshops for primary school children at the offices of Viper Innovations in Portishead over the Autumn half-term.

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.”

Code + Make Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding campaign for digital making

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.

I would be grateful for your support to this project. You can pledge on the project page on Spacehive.

 

Making Apps with JavaScript

JavaScript is the programming language that powers the web. It adds interactivity to a website and applications are written in JavaScript everyday – ranging from a single page application, games, apps, programming drones to the Internet of things.

At Coding Club, the children have been learning how to program apps with JavaScript using Bitsbox. Bitsbox is a paid online learning application, but anyone can sign up and start using the free tutorials or the hour of code. They also offer a monthly subscription with lost of goodies.

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.

Most children in Year 4 and above who are confident with Scratch should be able to write apps with JavaScript and understand the concepts. Bixtbox has definitely been a big hit with the kids.

Making apps with JavaScript