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.

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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.