Posted in Coding, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1, KS2, Programming Devices

Module 4: Computer Science

 

The final Pick ‘n’ Mix module was all about computer science. Many of my previous blogs give information regarding the topics discussed within this module and they are linked below:

Unplugged:

Algorithms can also be taught using the unplugged concept. Children complete challenges which relate to that of an algorithm, for example, children describe to a partner how to complete simple daily tasks such as getting from one place to another, making a jam sandwich or even tying your shoelaces. Whilst explaining, children will have time to adjust and amend their instructions or debug them, creating problem solvers and computational thinkers.  Computing unplugged can be adapted for use in many lesson such as DT, English, Maths and PE.unplugged cs

Computer Science Unplugged offer some great activities to use within the classroom to help introduce and develop computational thinking.

KS1:

KS1 computer science is a little different to KS2 as they learn to:

  • Write and test simple programs
  • Manipulate data
  • Organise data

Below are some useful resources to use with the children when teaching and learning about the areas outlined above:

Write and test simple programs: understand algorithms and how they are implemented as programs on digital devices

Manipulate data: manipulating and retrieving data in a range of digital formats

Organise data: organising and classifying whilst working creatively using digital media

KS2:

KS2 has significantly more computer science aspects and these can be read about in detail on my KS2 National Curriculum blog.

Areas addressed within the module include (some are linked up to previous blog posts):

  • Analysing and presenting
  • Computer Networks
  • Control
  • De-bugging
  • Decomposition
  • Discernment
  • How an algorithm/program works
  • Programming
  • Repetition
  • Variables

Below are some useful resources to use with the children when teaching and learning about the areas outlined above:

Analyse and Present: use and combine a variety of software to analyse and present data and information

  • Google Trends – great way for children to explore and compare data series. Links nicely with Google Flu Trends
  • Piktochart: create your own infographics combining global and local data by adding images, text and data to ready-made themes. Alternatives are easel.ly and infogr.am. A successful Year 3 student project
  • worksheet to use with children in order to teach them the difference between random data and data organised in a table.  They initially attempt to answer impossible questions based on random data – they can only really guess the answers.  They turn over and answer the same questions once the data has been organised into a data table
  • Hackasaurus: mash up and change any web page like magic. Use ‘x-ray goggles’ to hover over a website to see behind the scenes, then remix, make and share webpages or create your own, all within your browser. This makes it easy for children to tinker and mess around with the building blocks that make up the web. Includes resources for teaching webmaking: printables, cheat sheets, lesson plans, assessment rubrics, and a slideshow.
  • Popcorn Maker from Mozilla makes it easy to enhance, remix and share web video. Combine video and audio with text, links, maps, pictures and live feeds to make your own interactive newscasts, pop-up videos, multimedia reports, fan videos, guided web tours and more. Remix your favorite videos on YouTube or sounds on SoundCloud, add your own comments and links, or drag and drop in content from across the web.The result is a whole new way to tell stories on the web.
  • Mozilla Thimble: Thimble projects are hackable webpages that allow you to complete a challenge, play a game or build something cool by editing the code of the page, and learn webmaking skills like HTML and CSS in the process. Beginners can tinker around with template projects such as ‘Build your own Awesome Animal’, ‘Make an Animated Avatar’ or ‘Make Your Own Meme.’ Or you can hack into a pre-made game, customise it and share with friends
  • Text2Mindmap: A simple way to organise and classify information and show it visually. Outline your ideas as a list of topics and subtopics and an animated mindmap is automatically generated. You can drag and bounce your mindmap around the screen, edit fonts, colours and lines, rearrange the layout and save as a .jpg. Provides a quick focus on the hierarchical relationships between topics
  • The Rebirth of Rails: Amazing infographicvideo from General Electric about capturing and converting energy from braking to power trains. Also see two more interactives on the theme of trains
  • Book Creator App for the iPad- simple book creation for children
  • CBB app for ipad Creative Book Builder
  • Popplet for the iPad- organising ideas
  • Whodunnit? – Analyse a database to solve crimes

Computer Networks: understanding computer networks including the internet

  • How the Internet Works A module aimed at Year 5 with activities and resources.
  • Modelling Google A class activity. [CC by-sa Graham Hastings]
  • CS Unplugged: computer science without a computer. A collection of lesson ideas aimed at primary students that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles using cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. The activities introduce concepts such as representing information, networks, binary numbers, algorithms, procedures, and data compression, with practical guidance, worksheets, photos and videos.
  • The internet map: an interactive visualisation of the relationships between websites. Enter a well-known site and zoom in and out.
  • ScrabbleNet : Acting out the Internet An activity with Y7 to demonstrate the concept of how data is transmitted across the Internet.

Control: using computers to control simple devices such as toys

  • Pro Bot – classic floor turtle robot car from TTS. Not cheap but a great way into Logo.
  • Examples of worksheets for projects involving input/output control – Flowol based.  LighthousePelicanLevel Crossing.
  • Robots and computers activities from theOregon Museum of Science and Technology(OMNI). You can program a robot to complete an online obstacle course and download activity instructions for programming a friend around a maze or a robot to tie your shoes. Other online interactives include a binary number balance activity, manipulating colour mixing and resolution, how computer pointing devices work, exploring passwords, and the history of communication technologies.
  • Low Life Labs: a robotics activity from the Museum of Minnesota to find out how “CAPTCHAS” tests whether you are a human or a computer. Explore how you read letters versus how a computer reads them. Look at human vision and how human brains use “pattern recognition” to help us understand what we see.
  • Lego robots activities aimed at 8-13 year old girls: how do we design a robot that moves quickly and tuns in a tight circle? Extensions explore how to program a LEGO robot to perform specific tasks, testing and retesting modifications to maximise the effectiveness of each design feature.
  • Lego WeDo and Scratch – Resources for using Scratch to control the Lego WeDo control kit (for 8-12 year olds)
  • Education WeDo Resources for using the Lego WeDo software
  • Robotics Concepts for Kids from IBM: workshop materials that bridge the gap between computer science (programming using NetLogo) and engineering (designing and constructing a magnetic Braitenburg vehicle). The introduction uses a prepared presentation and film clips about artificial intelligence and the history of robotics. A computer simulation and construction of a mechanical vehicle that responds to magnetic force reinforces robotics as a practical pursuit. Suitable for Years 5 and 6.
  • Lightbot: control a robot by giving it commands using programming logic. A great introduction to simple programming with the more complex levels introducing recursion and conditionals.
  • Stencyl: a complete game-creation toolset based on Scratch blocks. Click and drag blocks to program your characters and choose from many ready made blocks.
  • Enchanting Scratch meets Lego NXT.
  • FlowGo Line Following Vehicle – sensing and control with feedback.  Ideal for KS2 extension and STEM project.  See Word doc at the foot of this page & video on Youtube

Decomposition: solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts

  • Before pupils create something in Scratch it can be useful to look at a working example and decompose what is happening. Spider Game on the Scratch website is here. Use right and left arrows to steer the spider. Spider Game planning is here.
  • Children (yrs 4-6) begin by working in small groups to develop a dance routine and record it on a flip cam. They break down the dance routine into parts and develop flow charts for each part.Pupils then edit screen gabs of them in different dance positions, whilst performing dance routine then import into Scratch costumes. Finally pupils use Selection and repetition to reconstruct the dance routine in scratch.
  • Thinking Myself: Computational Thinking in K-12 A peek into computational thinking through a series of lessons and games for children in grades K-12 defining the terms decompose, patterns, abstraction, algorithms and variables through examples and interactions

Discernment; Not believing everything that is read online

  • All About Explorers: what looks like a regular history site is full of inaccuracies. Activities are designed to help children learn to check facts and apply critical thinking skills to their research.
  • Internet Research (Fact or Fiction): Use this PDF guide covering urban legends, myths, hoaxes, opinions vs fact, web suffixes and dates to instigate class discussion around the accuracy of Internet information and maybe create your own urban legends. (from SNegreid on TES).
  • Media Smart – resources to help children and teachers understand digital advertising

How an algorithm works:

  • BrainPop animated movie on Computers: How does a computer work? What’s the difference between ROM and RAM? What’s an operating system? Covers what a central processing unit (CPU) is and how a hard drive operates. Also mentions modems, circuit boards, and sound and video cards. A related resource looks at Data Storage Devices: how CDs and DVDs, USB drives and memory cards store data. Resources includes a graded quiz, vocabulary activities and related information pages (subscription needed).
  • Jam Sandwich Algorithm Pupils program their teacher to make a jam sandwich

Programming:

  • Programming Basics A Prezi guide to some programming constructs with simple Scratch examples.
  •  Khan Academy Computer Science: an engaging and fun computing environment that has a coding pane and a canvas. You can change things in real time and explore how patterns, drawings, simulations and animations interact by changing core variables in Javascript or Processing. Watch the code and what is running simultaneously. This encourages you to experiment and make it your own, save to your profile and then share. You can listen to a tutorial as you interact on screen.
  • Redware lesson plans adaptable for upper KS1 and great for KS2 on Scratch.
  • A series of Scratch lesson plans aimed at KS2 and used with Y4-6 following the principle of not always showing pupils how to create each block
  • A series of Python lessons taught to Y6 pupils. Python needs MUCH more teacher time investment to teach successfully at KS2 – its a rarity just now
  • Python Video Help Files
  • Scratchel:introduces computational thinking through a series of problem solving activities set in Scratch based around Scratchel the robot and his friends.
  • Teaching LOGO in Lower KS2 series of lesson plans taught using programming principles
  • Series of Scratch Projects created by Phil Bagge and used in Y4-6.

Repetition: 

These are largely a collection of downloadable PDF’s that you can use with Microsoft’s LOGO program.  Children’s activities on this sort of application are often enriched and enhanced by working in pairs due to the opportunities for developing mathematical language and reasoning.

Variables: 

  • Scratch Maths Quiz which uses a single variable to hold the score. This is increased if the user answers questions right and is reported to the user after each question. (Yrs 4 & 5)
  • Scratch Automated Maths Quiz This builds on the concepts explored in Maths Quiz. The numbers are generated randomly and stored in two variables. The two variables are multiplied and the result stored in another variable. The user answer is compared to total variable. (Y5)
  • Text Based adventure game in Scratch Main Planning Variables used for hitpoints help sheet
  • Python Code (Adapting a poem) This module looks at the creation and use of a variable within a poem. The variable can be created by the programmer or by the program user or selected randomly from a list of items. (Yr 6) I think it is easier to explain variables with Python than Scratch but Python needs MUCH teacher training time investment!
  • Creating a shape calculator in Scratch where the number of repetitions is dependent on the number of sides on a shape.
    Thinking Myself: Computational Thinking in K-12 A peek into computational thinking through a series of lessons and games for children in grades K-12 defining the terms decompose, patterns, abstraction, algorithms and variables through examples and interactions.
  • Duck builder – free simulation resource that allows you to change and test variables
  • Virtual experiments – many of these allow you to test variables
  • A sense of murder  – from Kent ICT. A way of engaging children with data logging equipment.
  • Creatorverse and monster physics are great little apps to promote this area of ICT

Computer science is a key aspect of the computing curriculum and underpins many of the teaching strategies. I would always utilise computer science where necessary within all of my lessons as I believe it helps to set children up for future life within this technological world.

Advertisements
Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1, KS2, Programming Devices

The Bee-Bot app: My latest computing discovery uncovered

I downloaded the Bee-Bot App to further develop my knowledge and understanding of useful apps to use within the classroom for KS1 and this app is brilliant. A gem in fact.

The Bee-Bot App:

The Bee-Bot app is free and perfectly compliments the physical programming device, the popular Bee-Bot. A lesson idea could be to have a group of children working on the Bee-Bot app, whilst another group uses the physical programming device to keep every child busy.

Setting up the Bee-Bot App:

It was simple to download from the app store and once downloaded can be accessed straight away. It’s easy to use and very appealing to young children due to the cute animation and bright colours. There’s no log in or sign up details required so if parents have access to an iPad or iPhone at home, it’s a great app to download.

My Personal Experience of the Bee-Bot App:

Personally I LOVE this app.  I sat and played all the levels, admittedly some levels are a bit tricky if you try and programme the Bee-Bot to reach the flower all in one go but if you break the algorithm down into smaller chunks, levels can be achieved quite quickly.

bee-bot-app-target-page
The instructional page, detailing the aim of the level

The functions to programme the Bee-Bot character are identical to those on the physical Bee-Bot.

bee-bot-app-instructions
Instructions on how to program the character

I love the fact that there are different games/challenges within the app. The Bee-Bot has to reach a flower on some levels, heard sheep into a pen and collect eggs from chickens in other levels. The variation definitely kept me interested. There is also a second Bee-Bot app; Bee-Bot Pyramid, in which you must programme the device around pyramid themed maps trying to avoid the moving mummies (a potential cross-curricular link to History there).

bee-bot-app-egg-collecting
Stealing the eggs from the chickens game
bee-bot-app-easy
Reaching the flower game

Another aspect of the app I love is the fact that it can be completed individually or as groups as the Bee-Bot character can be programmed in one go or by using step by step instructions. A competition between table groups within the classroom or year group could even be set up to try and get the quickest completion time on particular levels.

Potential Cross-Curricular Links:

The could be used in conjunction with a maths lesson in which the children measure and draw up routes for the physical Bee-Bots by using the app as a guide. This could be enhanced further during a geography lesson whereby children could draw a map of their local area (once again using the app as a guide) and programme the physical Bee-Bot to visit certain places such as the library, school and hospital etc.

Assessment for Learning:

The app automatically saves the time taken and level completed on the specific device. Therefore, as long as the children always use the same iPad when accessing the app, the teacher can assess a child’s individual or group progress on the iPads. However, the actual algorithms the child inputted are not saved once the clear button has been pressed or level achieved, so even if a child successfully completes all the levels they may have inputted each movement singularly and therefore are not building up their ability to programme larger algorithms. This would then be hard to compare against a child who may have only completed a few levels but tried really hard to programme the whole route in one go.

Furthermore, if a child did complete all the levels, the 3 star rating system could be used as a secondary extrinsic motivator by pushing the child to try and achieve 3 stars on every single level.

bee-bot-app-challenge-selector
An overview of the levels completed and the 3 star rating system

Overall, I LOVE this app as it links to the physical devices whilst incorporating the use of iPads into the programming knowledge of the child. It is easy to monitor when children are exploring the app, has many cross-curricular links and also can be integrated into many different teaching and learning styles within the classroom. Similarly, the game like challenge feature will engage the children alongside the amazing animations and graphics, hopefully giving children the determination to succeed.

My advice: Download it now. A potential KS1/lower KS2 iPad necessity.

 

Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1, Programming Devices

Bee-Bots

 

beebot-top-and-rear

BEE-BOT:

The Bee-Bot’s are super cute and extremely easy to use.

Setting up the Bee-Bot:

Charging was quick and easy and gave visual feedback so you knew when it was charging and fully charged. Once fully charged, press the ‘X’ button to clear any previously stored data, then programme a route using the arrow buttons and press ‘GO’.The Bee-Bot will begin to move across the surface following the programmed route.

My Personal Experience of Bee-Bots:

Having seen Bee-Bots in schools, I have always been intrigued to use one however having worked mainly  in KS2, I’ve never had the opportunity to use them or watch children learn/play with them. Therefore, using the Bee-Bot was completely new to me. After some initial small Bee-Bot programming on my desk I decided to set myself a challenge to try and get through various routes I created on flip chart paper (the measurements were not as accurate as I had hoped but nonetheless I just about managed it to navigate the routes.) I designed three routes that I had to complete and each one encompassed a different difficulty level. This is an activity that would be really easy to set up within a classroom and use within KS1.

As I thoroughly enjoyed figuring out how to successfully programme the routes, I am sure children will to, especially as they will see this as a game, fostering their intellectual curiosity.

img_2243
The routes I drew to test my Bee-Bot programming ability.

Potential Cross-Curricular Links:

I then thought about how I could incorporate the use of Bee-Bots into other lessons and attempt to make some cross-curricular links. I had an idea to attach, with washi tape, a pencil to the back of the Bee-Bot and draw shapes such as squares and rectangles (linking to maths). However, although my intentions were good, when the Bee-Bot turned, instead of corners, kinks were drawn on the paper and the shape ended up like a square with quarter circles as corners…

bee-bot-shape-drawing
My initial plan to incorporate maths and Bee-Bots by attaching a pencil to the Bee-Bot and attempting to draw a square.

…However, you could ask the children to draw shapes and programme the Bee-Bot to follow the outline of the shape. This would get them to consider the size and properties of shapes as well as improve their programming and computing skills to follow the shape from start to finish. This would be effective in KS1 and it’s an engaging way of revisiting shapes or the first step of recognising shapes. Bee-Bots could be reintroduced within KS2 as a cross curricular link with Geography. A large may could be laid on the floor and using their knowledge of grid co-ordinates, must programme the Bee-Bot to move from one set of co-ordinates to another on the map. Further to this, children could then work out the distance travelled in relation to the maps scale when working Maths.

Assessment for Learning:

As the Bee-Bots save the last algorithms that were inputted, if a child cracks a maze, they can always show you without having to input again and again. This allows the teacher to assess how the children are doing, their engagement within the lesson and computing knowledge and understanding. Similarly, the children can input part of an algorithm and if it is correct/how they would like it, they can add to it, without having to repeatedly input the sequence they already successfully achieved. Not only does this save time but it also minimises the potential for frustration within the children if they cannot remember what they programmed previously. Therefore, children are likely to remain motivated and in control of their Bee-Bot.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoy using Bee-Bots and feel that they are an effective way of teaching KS1 to programme and receive instant visual feedback and results of their programming sequence. Bee-Bots could be programmed to move all around the classroom or in a more controlled environment on the desks, as they are adaptable depending on the sequences that are inputted.

They are cute and easy to use, thus a valuable tool for any KS1 classroom, as children are more than likely going to love using them during lessons, not just computing.

Thumbs up from Chloe S.