Paul Curzon from Queen Mary University of London has been running a series of free Monday evening workshops for computing teachers, on introducing programming concepts into the classroom in fun and creative ways. The next workshop (the last in this series, but they’ll be repeated) is on Monday 17 March at 5.30, more details and free tickets available from Computational Thinking: it’s about people too
Gemma Taylor was kind enough to share a couple of pictures she took from the most recent workshop (Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers) on Monday 3 March, and she’s given us permission to share them here – thanks Gemma!
— Gemma Taylor (@GTaylorSTEM) March 3, 2014
Naturally you might be wondering what on earth is going on above – Paul has corralled audience volunteers into forming an ’emotional robot’ which can be programmed to react to certain sounds. You can find out the instructions for making your own in our PDF Create-a-face: programming an emotional robot which comes from our workshop page on Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers – an excerpt is below.
The class make an affective (relating to moods and emotions) robot face out of card, tubes and themselves. It is programmed to react to different kinds of sounds (nasty, nice or sudden) and show different emotions (sad, happy, surprised). The class then think up some other facial expressions and program sets of rules to make the face respond to sounds with the new expressions.
The aim of this activity is to demonstrate how apparently complicated behaviour can be programmed using some simple rules. It also shows how programs are just rules followed by computes and specifically introduces object-based programming. The activity shows how breaking a program into objects can be much easier to write than trying to write it in one go. The class get to write some simple programs to control the face they created.
In the picture below the class have created an ‘insulting program’ which comes from the classroom activity ‘The Imp Computer‘ (PDF). That resource and all the other workshop resources can be downloaded from the Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers page.