Did you know that you can convert projects built in Scratch into standalone games, without the need to ever run Scratch? The wonderful games that my current pupils have built are all getting copied to CD so that they can be handed out as Christmas presents to their friends and family.
This is a real-eye opener for some as they have now become game developers by releasing their own games! I’m looking forward to seeing some of the packaging artwork that they’re now producing.
First Coding is very happy to reveal that after a summer of hard work our teaching resources are now online and available. Our resource packs are a subscription based online resource for primary and secondary school teachers as well as parents to aid in the teaching of computing within schools and the home. Not only does it provide teachers with classroom handouts, working project examples and PowerPoint presentations but subscribers have access to a monthly podcast of ideas for setting up coding clubs as well as a support forum and video seminars to help deliver great lessons.
In today’s sessions we were looking at how we could use the Microbit to measure water quality. One idea was to use the light sensor, shining a light through the water to then have its intensity measured. Another great idea was to measure the conductivity of the water, as impurities would influence the readings. Here we’re just getting some base readings from ordinary tap water.
As part of the teaching resource subscription package, I’ve started a series of podcasts covering a multitude of topics designed to help teachers and educators. As a little taster, here is the introductory episode for you to listen to.
Episode One: You don’t need to be an expert to run successful coding lessons.
Jez Whitworth, the co-founder of First Coding introduces himself and talks about how with his background in training and software development, identified a real need to teach coding to the younger generations. He also offers tips on how people who have little or no experience in teaching coding can become computer coding educators like himself and appeals for ideas on how best to encourage more girls to take up the subject.
I love hearing about the journeys pupils’ projects have taken them on, so I thought I would share one of my own.
At the end of last year I put together a little code machine in Scratch (you can see it here), it used a simple Caesar cipher to allow you to send secret messages. This got me into reading a great many books on codes and it wasn’t long before I wanted to create an unbreakable code of my own.
I also met a few people along the way, including someone at the Secret Army Museum who discussed with me methods to check whether a coded transmission had been tampered with. All really interesting.
I have now packaged up what I’ve learnt and built an app titled The Code Machine, soon to be available for free so all can enjoy.
A pupil, bored with being tasked with watering his grandma’s plants whilst she’s on holiday, used his Microbit lessons to build an automatic plant watering system. The water pump is activated during high sunlight levels as well as the temperature reaching a certain threshold. Such a great example of coding for the real world. Well done.
If you’re just starting out with coding or have children who are interested in it but not sure how to encourage them, then download our simple Learning to Code guide here. I’ve included a few tips to get you started, as well as some reading material and a couple of my own projects that will hopefully inspire people to start their own.
This week saw me visit the Bett Show which is an educational tech exhibition held in London’s ExCel Centre. The show is massive to say the least and in order to get the most out of my visit I put together a list of some of the people I wanted to talk to.
At the top of my list was Microsoft and the work they’re doing to with their Minecraft Education Edition. I spent a great deal of time talking to them about ways I can incorporate Minecraft into my coding courses and came away feeling very encouraged along with a couple of really good ideas about how to take things forward.
Integrating coding into Minecraft is easy and fun with the Code Builder which is based around the visual coding platforms such as Scratch that most of us are familiar with. This really simplifies the process of using code to manipulate the virtual world and offers an easy progression process when pupils are ready.
I also spent time with Google and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, again looking at ways to integrate their products into First Coding courses. Both stands were incredibly interesting to spend time with.
Other highlights include meeting a number product designers that I’m a huge fan of and have followed and read about them for years. Oh, and I also got to play and see inside the largest working Gameboy in the world. It’s surprisingly similar to how I made my arcade cabinet and I’m now wondering how one goes about breaking a world record.
We will shortly be posting theme related projects and ideas for people of all ages and abilities to get stuck in and have a go on our Facebook page. There should be something for everyone to enjoy so keep popping back to our page to see what December brings. Click here to be taken to our Facebook Page.
December’s theme is all about Spies and we’ve already put together some fun and creative projects to share with you. If you fancy setting us a challenge, then why not suggest a spy related idea for us to attempt.