Monthly Archives: June 2014

Exploring Computational Thinking through Magic

A group of Year 9 students from Winifred Holtby Academy used the art of magic to consider and discuss key principles of computer science and explore computational thinking.

Card Trick

They watched a series of magic tricks from Jody Greig at Flummix and learnt to perform each one. Throughout the day the students experienced learning experiences based on saliency, logic, flow charts and design principles through the performance of magic.


During each learning session, the students worked collaboratively to create resources and showcase videos to share with peers.  They created an animation of a card trick using Scratch and then completed a series of iPad challenges with some outcomes using iMovie.


We also witnessed some naturally confident performers!

Card Trick to support Computational Thinking from Ed Team on Vimeo.

What did they like best?

  • The learning of the magic tricks with binary along with Science and ICT which is STEM
  • Mostly I enjoyed learning new things that I can go away and try on other people
  • Learning to do magic tricks and also experiencing iMovie
  • I enjoyed EVERYTHING about the day
  • I enjoyed learning the magic tricks which I can go away today and show people
  • I liked the magic tricks the most but also learnt a lot
  • Learning new things and magic


Most students commented about how they were going to try out their new found magic skills on friends and family, and they all recommended the event to peers.

How about describing the day, and what it meant to you, in just one word?


Why would they suggest the day as a positive experience to friends?

  • Because it was fun and you get to experience magic
  • Because it is a fun way of learning
  • Because it was fun and had maths in it
  • Because if they’re into Computer Programming this might help
  • It is fun and has been a change and unique from other lessons
  • It was really interesting and inspiring

The group have also used the project and challenges for evidence towards their Bronze Crest Award which will recognise their achievement with STEM.   Watch this space for the next Dynamo style illusionist stepping out from Hull : )

Student-led Pi Club and Computing & Science challenges at Kingswood Academy

Some exciting and innovate projects have begun at Kingswood Academy where students are leading with the use of technology to create peer to peer learning opportunities.

And it’s another example of extending Computing opportunities for all – we’ve got that door analogy again 🙂

A group of Year 10 students have been working with projects across the curriculum and through enrichment activities with their achievements in STEM being recognised through the CREST awards programme.

An after school Raspberry Pi club is supported by a teacher but is planned, organised and delivered by students for students.  The students and their teacher recently came along to the KS3 Jam when they used their time to network and share project ideas with peers across the city.

At the weekly Pi Club they explore and discuss ideas and possibilities, research solutions and then complete tasks together. When extra resources are required they develop requests for funding which they present to the supporting teacher.

They’ll tell you the full story themselves here; particularly about how it’s impacted on learning:

Kingswood Pi Club from Ed Team on Vimeo.

How do you engage and inspire peers using Python? You demonstrate ‘While Loops’ and bring Beatlemania to Hull, of course!   Why didn’t I think of that?

Pi Club

And what about their teacher’s perspective?

Pi Club – A Teacher’s Perspective from Ed Team on Vimeo.

Leading the Pi Club has also led to involvement with another peer learning project.  In Science two Year 10 students have also used Makey Makey devices to design and deliver an investigation into conduction and resistance for Year 7 students.

They’ve videoed parts of the lesson using iPads and produced an edited version to record and share the learning session.

The students initially explored the Makey Makeys themselves to discover their potential. They quickly realised that the devices could inspire others to explore how hardware is used to create input devices which interface with computers.  They found out, for example, how to create sounds by connecting people to the Makey Makey and then linking this to a simple online synthesizer.

Following this independent exploration the students planned a lesson to enable Year 7s to investigate the Makey Makeys themselves. They produced and delivered a PowerPoint presentation  to emphasise the learning objectives and success criteria for the session.

The initial input was followed by hands on exploration and investigation as students tested a range of materials with the Makey Makey and produced input devices of their own. The Year 10s supported the students as they worked, aiming to answer questions with questions; for example asking the Year 7s to predict which materials would respond and why.

In the final plenary the Year 7s were encouraged by their older peers to explain what they had discovered and to suggest next steps and other ways to use the Makey Makey.

As part of the Year 10s own reflection on the session, they used iMovie on the iPads to produce this short summary video recording some of the key aspects of this project from their point of view.

KWA Makey Makey Project Kingswood from Ed Team on Vimeo.



Kingswood Pi Club from Hull Ed Team on Vimeo.

Opening the Door to Computing opportunities for all

Perhaps now is a good time to explain the origins of the ‘Opening the Door….’ project.

From the onset of the Computing project in Hull,  our aim was to support schools to introduce the new Computing curriculum, develop staff confidence and engage with students creatively and dynamically to impact on attainment and achievement.

It was a bold statement but one that we committed to delivering with an inclusive approach.  We wanted to support and lead through CPD, projects and events to ensure that ALL students were offered opportunities to study Computing.

Just as importantly that all students were able to engage with computing projects, to get excited about Computing, and to be inspired through Computing.

Web banner


From earlier posts you’ll have seen a snapshot of what was achieved at the KS3 Raspberry Jam and event at Kelvin Hall to raise aspirations in STEM, but it’s always been a key consideration to look at progress and impact on T&L in schools afterwards.  The ‘what happens next’ consideration.

There are more school-based activities planned for this term.  There’s a day to develop computational thinking through magic and also a careers focused event looking at the role of a cyber-security professional, with techniques students can use to ensure their own e-safety, and those used to protect the nation from cyber threats.

But of course students are inspired daily in school by their own teachers, and it was a visit to the Computer Science lunchtime club at Sirius Academy that prompted another discussion about strategies towards widening participation.

I’d met some of the students at the Jam, and as I was introduced to them there was a noticeable gender imbalance; the group was mostly girls.  As a couple of teachers at other schools had talked about encouraging girls to participate in Computing activities, I asked how so many girls were engaging with this twice weekly club.

The teacher’s response?  I opened the door.

Opening the door!

The girls had been waiting outside the room before their next lesson, so an invite into the club to get an early seat and an opportunity to be challenged through computing projects led to them becoming active members of the group.

There’s nothing ‘pink’ about this club.  Just a focused and well prepared set of challenges to inspire ALL students.  This enables them to select their most appropriate progression route through challenged-based learning to support personalisation and group work.

‘Just’ doesn’t do it justice – it’s intensley planned 🙂

And so the phrase was born and has stuck.

Opening the door to Computing opportunities for all

What are the challenges offered at Sirius Academy?

Students are extending their learning through a range of projects including programming, robotics, and game-making.  A recent challenge was to build their own electronic circuits and integrate them with Arduino modules to control the robots.  Raspberry Pi mini computers also form part of their resource bank to support challenges.

They’ve also looked at wearable tech and have used the electronic fashion projects to create their own textile projects.

Girls ada fruit 1st April 2014 photo 2

Some activities at the club have been trialled and then integrated into cross-curricular projects. Creating a game controller using a Makey Makey kit gave the students the chance to test out various objects and the students thought it was a great was to explore circuits.  Now there are similar activities planned, with a cross-curricular theme, through D&T and Music.

Additionally, a group of Y8 students recently entered the BAFTA Young Games Designer 2014 competition. Using a carousel timetable, they looked at character design in art, chemical reactions and explosions in science and the ethics of gaming in Humanities.  Other tasks that were delivered through different subject areas included the design of an international marketing plan, vectors and strategy.  Finally students create a detailed proposal for their game.

Opening the door to Computing opportunities for all.

As the project extends across the city when we share ideas and plan towards priority areas, please do get in touch for any further info.

And look out for more examples from other schools who are extending Computing opportunities to ALL students.

For anybody looking for further reading and links, the CAS Include subgroup is a great resource and community.


Encouraging Computing opportunities for all at Kelvin Hall School

The objectives for today’s event included raising aspirations in STEM subjects and creating opportunities and challenges to encourage and inspire tomorrow’s digital creators.

60 girls from Years 7 and 8 were invited to work collaboratively through a range of projects and all said in their evaluation comments that they’d recommend the event to their peers.  Here’s a selection and summary, with comments, about some of those projects and challenges:

Identifying cyberbullying

(Group activities to spot early signs, prevention and actions to take)


Hack the web

(Hacking web pages session with a twist using Mozilla Hackasaurus)

 Top Tips to share with others to protect against cyber security attacks

Top Tips to share with others to protect against cyber security attacks

Slices of Pi

(Challenges to inspire tomorrow’s digital creators)

 The most challenging & rewarding part of the day? #h2df Kelvin Hall, Hull

Interactive Fiction Factory

(Creating and sharing resources with peers to raise awareness and develop strategies about cyber bullying)





Only one person had used a Raspberry Pi computer at home and that was “to program things and play games on it” when it was attached to a TV.


What did the students  enjoy the most?


  • I enjoyed learning about women in Computing and learning to hack
  • I liked all of it because the activities were amazing!
  • In my opinion the best bit was learning through playing and with free things that we can try at home
  • I enjoyed working all together as one big group and next splitting up to create stories
  • The interactive fiction story because it was fun and the sort of thing I like.  I enjoyed all of it though as it was different all day.
  • I enjoyed using Twine for story making because we used our imagination
  • Connecting all the wires to the Raspberry Pi computer and playing Minecraft
  • The choice game and putting the Raspberry Pi computer together
  • I enjoyed learning how to set up and use a Raspberry Pi
  • I really enjoyed hacking the BBC news and making a Father’s Day message
  • I liked the Minecraft because I’ve never done it before and it was really fun
  • The bit I most enjoyed was with the Raspberry Pi.  I didn’t know what one was and how easy it was to hack the web
  • Learning how to hack websites for good reasons in a good way
  • Hacking websites 🙂  It was fun to be able to do it although it’s worrying that others can do this
  • Hacking into the One Direction websiteIMG_1045

Have anybody been inspired to check out ideas after today?

  • Yeah!  Raspberry Pi!
  • I’m going to make my computer safer
  • I will try and hack and create an interactive story
  • I am going to buy a Raspberry Pi plus I am going to hack the internet for Father’s Day for my dad.  I might also make my own website plus my own story
  • I may try the hacking again and to send my dad a Father’s Day message
  • I would buy a Raspberry Pi and try out different things on Minecraft like the teleporting
  • I may have another go at hacking sometime but I will not publish it
  • I would like to try more Minecraft
  • I will probably hack and use Twine
  • Not sure.  If anything it will be hacking
  • MINECRAFT.  It’s amazing and I’ll download it.
  • I will try writing with Twine as I found it fun deciding on the ending
  • I will probably try almost everything from today

Why would they recommend the event to others?

  • Because it was really fun and it got everybody involved
  • It was awesome, fun, plus you learn a lot without realising it
  • It is a different approach to learning
  • Because you learn a lot and I wasn’t aware of hacking but now I am.IMG_1053
  • Because it was fun and showed danger and greatness about the internet
  • Because it helps you learn more and you can have a different experience
  • Because most people would like to play Minecraft and hack
  • Because it’s very useful and it’s cool to know it for everything you need.
  • It was plenty of fun and it really got me thinking
  • Its super fun
  • It was fun and makes you awar of the dangers of the internet
  • Because it tells people about internet safety
  • We learnt a lot.  It was worth getting out of class
  • Because it was really fun and interesting.  Also very different.
  • Because it shows you e-safety
  • Because it is a fun way of learning
  • It was a great experience to have.  I’m lucky I got picked!
  • Because it’s a fun way to learn things including e-safety
  • Educational, informative and a good laugh
  • Because it was awesome


Suggestions to improve future events.  How can we make the next one better?

  • I would like to learn more about Raspberry Pi
  • Who invented the computer?
  • Nope, it was fine just the way it was
  • You could extend the activities a little.  It got us really interested!
  • More time on Raspberry Pi, the interactive fiction and hacking parts of the day
  • Longer on Minecraft!
  • The consequences of hacking and teaching us how to hack different games as well as Minecraft.
  • Do different things on Raspberry Pi
  • Nothing needs improving.  I think the sessions should be longer!
  • Have longer for all of it, like two days.
  • More stuff with the computers.
  • I don’t think you could have made it better.
  • Not raise our hopes about being off school for an extra week!
  • I don’t know. It was all good!
  • More time to play on Minecraft!
  • More Raspberry Pi activities