Category Archives: New Computing Curriculum

Ada Day: Thursday 30th June

Ada Lovelace Day in Hull: An event to inspire the next generation of digital makers and support an increased participation of girls in computing

Invitations have now arrived in schools for a day of creative and collaborative digital making challenges with career connections at Winifred Holtby Academy on Thursday 30th June.

This event aims to encourage Y7 girls to explore physical computing and e-textiles through social and hands-on learning activities.

We’ll be using resources and activities from the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me project and collaborating with STEM Ambassadors through a range of hands-on challenges.

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Wearable inventions

Event aims:

  • To support the participation of more girls in computing and strategies to help close the gender gap in STEM fields.
  • To challenge and influence perceptions of computing with positive role models
  • To share creative opportunities through physical computing as a wearable tech STEAM projects (art, textiles, design etc.)
  • To support teachers with networking and collaborative opportunities
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Peer to peer learning

Look out for more opportunities with peer to peer learning activities and community digital-themed events across the city of Hull.

Innovations and Game Making during National Careers Week

This week we’ve been supporting schools from the Hull Ready Hub through creative computing activities with Y5.

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What opportunities does computing offer towards future employment choices?

Well, we didn’t have a crystal ball at Malet Lambert, as 240 Y5 learners and their teachers got involved at the Careers Ambition and Inspiration Day.  But we did offer workshop activities focused on collaboration, game making and problem solving.
 

Part of activities to mark National Careers Week included learner engagement activities with an inventive focus.  Looking at a Raspberry Pi mini computer provided opportunities to work together to invent new solutions beyond the input and output conversations started.
 

The children also got hands-on with game making and development activities using Scratch as they worked with older peers too to create further iterations of their ideas.
 
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‘Made in Hull’ algorithms for 2017

What happens when you introduce a project for pupils to design, build and test an algorithm to share a local story to visitors about Hull?

Oh, and they have to wear their code with pride.  That’s because their messages need to be digitally displayed on a wearable tech device called a Codebug.

That was the challenge set by the Hull 2017 team and RM Education to a group of digital leaders from Spring Cottage and Malet Lambert schools.  Collaborating across Y5, 7 & 8, they worked in teams to design and communicate their stories. All part of events organised during National Careers Week.

An afternoon of creativity and fun (according to some) turned into problem solving and teamwork as the children tackled errors through their complexities.  Confident coding led to serious debugging tasks and in turn to successful projects shared.

Code Orange 🙂

Initial ideas at the 2 schools were shared in the small new teams and further projects extended and developed during the session.

 

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Testing and debugging

It became evident to the groups that coding as a trio could lead to more ambitious outcomes once everybody’s ideas and skills were considered.  Whatever their age and if they had, or hadn’t in this case, worked together before.

What did the children enjoy about the project?

  • How we got to code with different people I didn’t know
  • I liked all the coding that we had to do and all the debugs we had to do
  • The girl who came from Malet Lambert let us decide
  • That we had to work together
  • Working as a team
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Made in Code

And what about collaborating with students from another school?

  • That we work good in a group and we have more ideas
  • That at different schools they learn different things about coding
  • That it is fun to learn with other people
  • You can collaborate vary well with someone you haven’t met before
  • How to tell people how to do things!!
  • THAT YOU STILL USE CODING AT BIG SCHOOL AND ITS NOT AS CONFUSING AND HARD AS IT LOOKS AND YOU MUST ALWAYS HAVE A GO
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Team Smile

What did the children learn during the project?

  • That debugging is easier than I thought
  • How to make code more thoroughly
  • That you can wear your code
  • That you can do so many things with one tiny piece of technology
  • Teamwork

 

 

 

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Sharing stories  

 

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Wearables for wearables

Team photos were taken with a Raspberry Pi project as we continued the planning conversations about possibilities with inputs and outputs.

Smile : )

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Codifying Learning Project: Learning analytics in a primary & secondary setting

Background

We’ve been exploring data with a learning focus for a couple of years now, through examples of hack activities with data collection and visualisations as well as joining up the Internet of Things (IOT) with physical computing. Our programme of CPD (continued professional development) in Hull continues to support teachers and learners to provide an engaging and inspiring computing curriculum.

However, an emerging area of discussion and support for our schools to deliver their learning visions has been around harnessing big (and small) data in education.

From this we’ve looked to the area of learning analytics as a mechanism to support the impact of data on learning. Moreover, by asking big learning questions.

Learning Analytics in a school context

There are many definitions of learning analytics but we’ve used this one as a starting point for planning with our schools in Hull:

the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs

Whilst there are a plethora of studies and examples from higher education, our requirements to use learning analytics in a primary and secondary school setting started from within our own classrooms and school leadership approaches.

The notion of using data in a school environment concentrated our thoughts about some of the biggest, most important questions, which underpin education:

  • What is great teaching and how do we measure it?
  • What is knowledge?
  • What is learning?
  • How do we measure learning?
  • What is pupil progress and how do we measure it?

Thinking critically about what school data is currently measuring, and what it’s trying to measure, has been fundamental to the project. How can big (and small) data provide teachers and learners with the insights they really need?

Methodology

We’re using a design-based research methodology, collaborating with teachers and school leaders, to explore how data can help teachers teach and learners learn. This initial stage, with a secondary and a primary school in Hull, revolves around asking the aforementioned big learning questions at school level, at the same time as exploring big data considerations on a wider educational level.

Working with SLT teams to understand the high-level vision and strategies for their school, focus groups and interviews are in the initial phases.

To gain the holistic insight which big data principles demand, it’s also been vital to include perceptions directly from children. We’ve already worked with work with a sample of children from Y3 – Y8 to explore their views on teaching and learning within their schools.

Next steps

As collaborations with teachers and leaders continue, the students involved in the project also have plans to join together through a learning project.

The older students, as ‘Learning Innovators’ will use digital technologies to capture their learning reflections over time. Of course this will generate insights for discussion, alongside initiating even more data through the online tools utilised.

Their reflections and knowledge will also be incorporated into their design of a learning activity for the younger children.

A workshop during National Careers Week, in March, is planned at the primary school. As a peer to peer learning activity, children from the primary school focus group will work with the older students to collaborate and create a piece of wearable technology.

They have risen to a challenge set by the Hull 2017 City of Culture team and will use their creativity, knowledge and skills gained from computing, design and enterprise curriculum areas to share their ‘Made in Hull’ algorithms using Codebug.

Get in touch if you have any questions.

Inspiring Hull’s next generation of computer scientists at Bletchley Park

Just one teacher’s hand acknowledged a previous visit to Bletchley Park when Dr Sue Black asked at our Tech 4 Change conference this July.  On hearing her inspiring keynote, including insights into the Saving Bletchley campaign, we’d decided within a couple of hours to organise our own educational visit to inspire the next generation of code breakers from Hull.

Oh, and because we’d been joined by other schools and friends from Salford, we also pledged to collaborate to give our students opportunities to work with peers from another city on the day, too. That was Wednesday.

It’s hard to believe that Bletchley Park held onto code breaking secrets and its instrumental part in the WW2 strategy until the 1980’s. Some of our students had learnt about its significance through history or computing lessons; others through their interests outside of school. For some it was Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game film that had put Bletchley Park on their personal radar.

We chose the date intentionally to coincide with the bicentennial celebrations of Ada Lovelace’s birth. Inspiring through computing role models often starts with an Ada starter from me, so the fact that Turing had turned to her work again whilst at Bletchley gave an opportunity to incorporate many angles with aspirational opportunities.

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Supporting schools’ computing curricula as a focus to impact on learning necessitates a priority on progression. That means with visits too, so this was very much a cross-curricular and whole school approach by the schools incorporating careers, maths, computing and a plan to take an historical context forward through innovation with future projects which gave capacity to raise aspirations and show real word scenarios.

For some that’ll be designing and making wearable tech solutions for an intended audience, and all from the starting point of designing an algorithm to achieve a creative output. I knew already, but after spending a day with these students I now know for sure their potential and talents as collaborators, innovators and the capacity for some to be poetic scientists….the future’s looking bright through STEM.

With 80 students and adults from All Hallows RC School (Salford), Malet Lambert and Winifred Holtby Academy, we worked together in numerous small groups to gain insights and learn over 3 sessions during the visit.

Our visit also gave a chance to see props and resources from the Imitation Game film and to become immersed in the era through multimedia and an exhibition.

The image of the mansion house is iconic so to actually stand on the front step is a definite photo opportunity and it became apparent as a must-have selfie snap!

Through a tour of the grounds and buildings we learnt so much about the campaign and strategy during WW2. It was bombed, but that’s another tale that we’ll tell another day after Martin’s fantastic storytelling style triggered numerous visualisations of what life was like during the period. Who worked there, how the shift patterns operated and how roles were distributed.

Coding, cipher, encryption, translation, iteration, monotony, accuracy, teamwork and transport all figured highly in the conversations and recounts. Asking students about their preferred role had they been dispatched to Bletchley in secrecy during the war, and actually had a choice, answers ranged from translation duties, hackers & decoders to motorbike code couriers. The latter being a favourite from the girls in our group who had raised an eyebrow initially at learning the number of women coders onsite throughout the years.

Our only tricky moment on the day came when we tried to get one of the teachers out of Hut 11. Bless, the chance to get up close to Turing’s Bombe and crack Enigma was far too exciting and fascinating to leave!

While students learnt about solving problems, computer science, machines, designs and processes they were able to set their own Enigma coded messages for mates to crack. Or to challenge others virtually.

Questions about what’d happen now led to conversations about cyber security and opportunities for future scientists; more raised eyebrows from a group of students realising the opportunities and incentives available for this type of career path (yes, including a couple of girls studying GCSE computer science)

We also got an insight into the life of Alan Turing and learnt about his university rehearsals to his teddy bear audience!

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For our group the final challenge we faced was to crack Enigma and agree a strategy to get our battleships across the Atlantic safely. True teamwork to tackle the various stages involved and prove their ability to calmly solve problems and alter plans based on data collected.

They cracked it and also took another photo opportunity alongside one of just a couple of working Enigma machines in the world.

Photo gallery here which we’ll populate with more images once downloaded; we were many groups!

An ambitious and impactful day which has hopefully sparked thoughts and aspirations for our students and added to our growing teacher network and examples of innovative and creative approaches.

Big thanks to Alison and the team at Bletchley for making the visit possible. Would we recommend it to other schools and educators thinking about the long journey past Milton Keynes? Absolutely! We want to return to see everything next time….no hesitations; it was #awesome.

And returning to the July conference, and that sentence from Sue that’s still at the forefront of my mind when we’re trying to offer opportunities for students:

“Follow your passions and change the world” 😄

Y4 children take on the ‘Scribblebot Challenge’ at Malet Lambert School for #GEWmakeit

This week we supported Malet Lambert School who hosted Hull Ready Hub’s first Enterprise Festival during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The event focused on Hull as a City of Culture, Enterprising People, STEM and Digital, so we planned and delivered an activity used through the Research and Play project.

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Hull Ready Hub Enterprise Festival

We challenged the visiting Y4 children (over 200 of them!) to ‘design and build a robot that’ll draw it’s own work of art’.

They collaborated through a Scribblebot Challenge and worked in pairs to explore computational thinking as they built their robot.  At the end of each 20 minute maker session we shared what each robot had created.

Children developed creative circuits and explored complexity using variables such as motors, switches and artistic additions to their design. Ice-lolly sticks became a favourite design addition!

The secret to success came with identifying ‘failures’ and using design iterations to improve their final robot creation. 

Final robot masterpiece were definite STEM to STEAM masterpieces.

Full photo gallery here

Inspiring the next generation of digital creators through a peer to peer STEM event

Teachers at Kingswood Academy decided to extend their Big Bang Science event this year, for partner primary schools, to include more ambitious projects for students to share.

Last October’s festival was for one day to promote opportunities through STEM with a peer to peer learning model.

The RM team in Hull have supported these plans and in particular the group of Y11 students leading the festival with their Science teacher, Amy Hill.  It was also this group of students who led lots of workshops with the visiting children from Y6 classes across both days.

Since attending our Tech 4 Change conference themselves in July, as Hackspace advocates, this group of Y11 Science students are now evolving into role models themselves for younger children. Their enthusiasm and understanding of the creative opportunities that computing and the STEM arena bring have inspired KS2 children and given their teachers a range of ideas.

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Setting challenges

Over a couple of months we’ve planned projects and activities to engage all learners coming along to collaborate at Kingswood over the two days.

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Refining models for art

Each school joined the activities for half a day, with numerous partners delivering a carousel of activities; all through the theme of STEM and for us with a focus on computing.  Specifically, creative computing for all.

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MakerEd workshops

Activities included:

  • Designing and making a Scribblerbot to develop the next art masterpiece
  • Circuits’ circus: Projects using electric paint to create robot cards
  • Getting creative with Raspberry Pi and the camera add-on to collaborate with a photo booth project using Python
  • Using proximity sensors with a Halloween theme to invent mischievous new scenarios
  • Music madness with midi keyboards: Designing the next midi keyboard with absolutely anything (actually, with Bare Conductive’s Touchboard).
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Scribblybot Art Projects

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Art-tastic 🙂

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Project iterations

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Discovering proximity sensors and code

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Themed Looney Tunes!

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Photobooth take aways

Full photo gallery here.