Teaching London Computing – Newsletter #9 – May 2021

This is the full text of the 9th newsletter which I (Jo B) normally send to all London-based teachers on our Teaching London Computing subscription list. Teachers outside London usually get a shorter version with anything geographically irrelevant (ie things happening in London) removed, however during lockdown this is less clear.

I also send an occasional version to our international subscribers. Details in the text below on how you can sign up if you’re reading this for the first time and would like to get the emailed version in future. It’s all free :)


Dear colleagues

Welcome to May 2021’s Newsletter 9 (previous newsletters live here).

We are currently working on the next issue of CS4FN magazine, on Smart Health, which should be arriving online imminently, and physically in subscribing schools in a few weeks. Changes to working practices during coronavirus made it impossible to publish an issue last year. All of our previous issues are free to download as PDFs and if you’d like to sign up to receive printed copies please see [1] below.

As always please feel free to share this newsletter by forwarding it to colleagues in case they’d like to sign up too – new readers can sign up using the orange form on this page.

You are receiving this email because you’ve previously signed up to the ‘TLC mailing list’ to hear about new courses and resources etc but if you no longer want to hear from us please let me know and I’ll remove you.

Follow us on Twitter @cas_london_crc or @cs4fn.

Table of Contents
1. New CS4FN magazine – Issue 27 – Smart Health
2. CS4FN blog (new) and Teaching London Computing blog
3. Resources
4. Computing Education Research

1. New CS4FN magazine – Issue 27 – Smart Health
CS4FN (Computer Science For Fun) is the computing magazine for schools from Queen Mary University of London’s Computer Science department. It was co-founded by Profs Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan in 2005 and all back issues can be downloaded here.

In our next issue we look at how computer scientists are creating intelligent programs and tools to support medical decision-making, supporting patients and doctors, with a particular focus on the Pambayesian research project (patient managed decision-support using Bayesian Networks).

1a. Last call for subscribers! (for this issue)
We send around 24,000 copies to 2,400 subscribing UK schools (some subscribers have 1 copy for the library, some have 30 for a class set etc) and if you’re not yet among them but would like to be please use the purple form here. If you’re not sure if you’re already subscribed please email Jo to check. Please sign up by midday Friday 14th May for this issue.

2. CS4FN blog (new) and Teaching London Computing blog
As a new way to access CS4FN articles we are posting both new and archive articles from the magazine on our new blog site at https://cs4fn.blog/. Read fun, accessible articles about research and leading-edge technology, learn as you go, and become inspired about Computer Science, Audio and Electronic Engineering.

We publish articles for teachers on our sister site, Teaching London Computing, which is also packed full of free classroom resources.

Some recently added articles on the CS4FN blog

From last year on the Teaching London Computing (TLC) blog for teachers


3. Resources
3a. Greek translation of The Chocolate Turing Machine’ talk
For any Greek speakers Paul gave his workshop on ‘The Chocolate Turing Machine’ at the online Computing at School Festival in Greece (to hundreds of Greek schools) a recording of which is available on YouTube, which had a live translator. The main presentation begins at around 28min 40s. More on the Chocolate Turing Machine.

3b. STEM Learning eLibrary
The STEM Learning eLibrary has added another three of our teacher resources to its curated collection of CS4FN / TLC resources.

  • Roman numeral pixel puzzle [TLC page | STEM Learning eLibrary page] – learn about pixels and Roman numerals in this colour-by-number puzzle from which a mosaic-style picture will emerge (printable or spreadsheet version available)

  • Hieroglyphs pixel puzzle [TLC page | STEM Learning eLibrary page] – this time hieroglyphs provide the code to colour in an Egyptian-style picture (can be done on paper or on a computer)

  • Sequencing / looping puzzle (frogs & tadpoles) [TLC page | STEM Learning eLibrary page] – introduce sequences and loops by putting five stages of a frog’s life cycle in the right order – a printer is needed for this one but the cartoon drawings are simple enough to copy by hand if one isn’t available.

3c. Command Line Heroes Podcast – Dr Clarence Ellis
Prof Paul Curzon was one of the guests on the latest (S6E5) episode of the Command LIne Heroes podcast, talking about the work of Dr Clarence Ellis who was the first Black man to earn a PhD in Computer Science (and whose CS4FN article by Paul you can read here). Dr Ellis developed ‘Operational Transformation’, a tool which lets multiple people edit a document all at the same time without interfering with each other’s work (we use this a lot in Google Docs). Paul also talks about his own approach to CS4FN (Computer Science For Fun) and inspiring young people to find out more about computer science and its history.

4. Computing Education Research
For educators interested in computing education research Jane Waite organises a monthly ‘book club’ at 7.30pm on the first Thursday of every month for CAS (Computing At School). The events are free, organised via a Facebook group, ticketed by Eventbrite and held on Gather Town – find out more here, in particular the Joining In button.

Teaching London Computing Newsletter – October 2019

Welcome to our fifth Teaching London Computing newsletter (the previous newsletters live here) and you are welcome to forward this to colleagues – new readers can sign up using the orange form on this page.

1. Save the date [1]
Please mark Wednesday 11 December 2019 in your diaries as the date for QMUL’s annual free family-friendly Christmas Computer Science lecture, aimed at a secondary school-aged audience. This year Prof Andrea Cavallaro is talking about his ‘Vision’ work in computing. I don’t have any more information yet but I’m sure the lecture will soon appear on our public events page.

2. Save the date [2]
Please mark, Saturday 29th February 2020 in your diaries. We are running our CAS London conference again at Gladesmore. A huge day of CPD for computing educators – keep it free. Booking will open soon for early bird tickets.

3. Courses: TechPathways London
Our next TechPathways London course is free, and on 1 Nov 2019 from 9.30am to 4.30pm at Manorfield Primary School, E14. “Digital Art and Design for Secondary Schools” is aimed at both computing teachers and their art and design colleagues: “We are particularly keen to see teachers from both departments so that they can support each other in introducing digital art and design in their schools.” The course is aimed at secondary school teachers and Year 6 primary teachers but anyone educating young people aged 11-24 is welcome.

This course is being run by Queen Mary University of London as part of the TechPathways programme and is supported by the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) and the Institute of Coding (IoC).

[Book your free place via Eventbrite] [Bookmark our courses page]

4. Courses: Other
The IDEA Store in Whitechapel runs beginners’ courses in Python (we’ve not seen the course content however).

There is a five week course starting on Wednesday 30 October called Programme in Python – Beginners [IML] – 6.30pm, two hours a week (£43, £12 conc).

We also recommend keeping an eye on Computing At School where a great deal of courses are advertised on their Events page, taking place in London and beyond. It’s free to register.

5. It’s nearly Hallowe’en! – free resources from Teaching London Computing
There are some slightly spooky goings on with these algorithms aka Tudor Computational Witchcraft, ideal for getting to grips with 6, 7 and 8 times tables, and for 9 times tables we have the Cunning 9x table algorithms. For younger children we have a colour-in pumpkin pixel-puzzle and a Hallowe’en kriss-kross – download our free Hallowe’en puzzles.

Martin Gardner (whose birthday it is today, 21 October) popularised mathematical games including the hexaflexagon. It’s a simple folded strip of paper which ends up with more than two sides. Hexahexaflexagons have even more sides and you can use them to illustrate computational thinking about graphs and maps, that links contains downloadable templates for coloured hexahexaflexagons as well as blank ones for your class to create their own designs with. Here’s Prof Paul Curzon explaining how to fold one. Why not make a Hallowe’en hexaflexagon where pictures of ghosts appear and disappear as you flex it.

6. Computing and Poetry
National poetry day was on 4th October and to celebrate we created a new page of computing activities with links to poetry. Write your own odes inspired by an Ancient Greek poem about a town of automata, use rhymes to teach loops, uncompress poems to learn about compression algorithms, write programs to shape programs or go the whole hog and write a program that writes love poems for you.

7. Prof Peter McOwan and the next issue of CS4FN
Prof Peter McOwan, who sadly died in July this year after an illness, co-founded CS4FN with Prof Paul Curzon in 2005. He and Paul shared an enthusiasm for communicating computer science in fun and engaging ways, particularly using unplugged methods and magic shows. We will miss him greatly and our next issue of CS4FN will celebrate him and his research interests.

8. Royal Institution Masterclasses in Computer Science at QMUL
For the last five years we have been delivering a series of Masterclasses in Computer Science with the Royal Institution (Ri). The QMUL / Ri Masterclasses are for young people aged 13-14 and involve a series of six weekly Saturday morning workshops on a variety of topics, with sessions run by different researchers in the Computer Science department here at QMUL. The Ri Masterclasses are a UK-wide program with several running in London (not just in Computer Science but also in Maths and Engineering). You can find out more about our own sessions here and about the program as a whole (and how to sign up your students for next year) at the Ri’s masterclass portal. They’re free! You can also see what people tweet out on the #RiMasterclasses hashtag on Twitter.

9. New computing hubs coming to London
Six new computing hubs are getting ready to start to support teachers in London. There are Langley Grammar,  Newstead Wood, Saffron Walden, Sandringham, Westcliff High School for Girls (@cs_essex, c.anderson@setsa.info) and Dartford Grammar. Each of them will be contacting schools in the boroughs that they have been allocated to support in the very near future. Dartford Grammar is holding a launch event on the 15th November [we will publicise the link / update this page when we have it].

10. Isaacs Computer Science for A level students
If you teach A level Computer Science then check out the new Isaacs Computing Science online learning Centre run by the NCCE for both students and teachers. Use it in the classroom, for homework and for revision. It is a great resource to support your students in doing well at A level.

11. Lesson plans for teaching primary and secondary computing
The NCCE has launched its new Teach Computing resource repository. It contains a series of units, each containing 6 lesson plans giving coherent programmes matching the national curriculum. The units range across many topics for primary and secondary computing. It gives you off the shelf lessons with the resources to deliver them. It aims to reduce your workload whilst also supporting you to increase your subject knowledge and have a greater understanding of effective pedagogy. More units are being added all the time.

12. Miscellaneous
Techy / hacking / music stuff in London(ish)” is a curated list of organisations (mostly in London) where people can go along to learn or create or watch what other makers have produced. There’s a fairly wide range including the Barbican and V&A as well as Maker / Hack / Music hackspaces, Dorkbot London, and the Restart Project which encourages people to fix their tech where possible, rather than simply replace it.

TLC Newsletter – Nov / Dec 2018

An early merry Christmas from Teaching London Computing (TLC) with our second newsletter (previous newsletters can be found here). There are more details of the free Christmas talk taking place on Wednesday 5 December 2018 and plenty of festive resources for your classroom.

Table of Contents

  1. Free Christmas evening lecture on Game AI for schools and families
  2. New issue of CS4FN – out now!
  3. Christmas classroom resources
  4. E4L2C – Exercises for Learning to Code, new from TLC / CAS London Master Teachers – an online course
  5. NCCE – National Centre for Computing Education
  6. Free course from CAS and Microsoft on Creative Computing
  7. iDEA – the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award – online learning supported by the Duke of York
  8. Rocket Fund – £5,000 match funding available for projects starting after 2 Dec 2018

1. FREE schools talk – Game AI Unleashed! IET / QMUL Christmas talk – 5 Dec

Next Wednesday (5 December 2018) we have a free family-friendly twilight talk on Game AI, aimed at secondary-aged kids but all welcome. There will be free mince pies afterwards too. The talk will be held at QMUL in the People’s Palace’s Great Hall (this building is next to the main Queen’s Building, on Mile End Road). Nearest tube station is Stepney Green (buses 25/205), talk starts at 5.30pm. Bring your class!
[Register for free tickets][Full details][Flyer]

2. CS4FN issue 25 on wearable computing is here

The magazines have been printed and subscribers should be receiving copies this week so keep an eye out for them. You can also download free PDF copies (and sign up to be on the mailing list) here. We are grateful to the Institute of Coding and to King’s College London for their support for this issue. Let us know the articles you like most and share some pics with us on Twitter @cs4fn / #cs4fn

3. TLC Christmas classroom resources – download and print, and adapt for your classroom

We have Christmas pixel puzzles, Doodle art algorithms to draw a Christmas tree, or get your class to edit a Christmas greeting program in Python. We also have some computing-themed cracker mottos and are always on the lookout for more… have a look at our ‘at a glance’ Christmas computing for more.

4. E4L2C – Exercises for Learning to Code – free on Teaching London Computing

CAS London Master Teachers have created E4L2C (Exercises for Learning to Code) a range of free exercises to help people gain skills and confidence in using Python. There are beginners, intermediate and advanced exercises – Beginner exercises (Sequence, Selection, Iteration), Intermediate exercises (Arrays, Functions, File Handling), Advanced exercises (Databases). All are free to access but in order to get feedback and find out how people are using them we are asking people to contact Trevor Bragg for a password.

5. New NCCE website – National Centre for Computing Education

https://teachcomputing.org/ – scroll down the page to find out how you can sign up to hear more and get involved.

“The Centre will start working with schools across England later this year, improving teaching and driving up participation in computer science at GCSE and A-Level.

The Centre will operate virtually through a national network of up to 40 school-led computing hubs to provide training and resources to primary and secondary schools, and an intensive training programme for secondary teachers without a post A-Level qualification in computer science.” [Press release]

6. Creative Computing for KS3 – courses in London and elsewhere

Computing At School, in association with Microsoft UK, is delighted to announce a two-day funded* course which will enable new and aspiring Heads of Computing in secondary schools to develop the skills and techniques to build a creative and innovative curriculum accessible for all and to lead a thriving subject in their school.

*Teachers in Category 5 and Category 6 opportunity areas qualify for FREE places, including cover.  To apply for one of these places please use the registration form here. Funding is only available for state-funded schools. For teachers applying from outside these areas the cost will be £200 (plus booking fee) for both days of the course.

The London course starts on Friday 11 January 2019 and takes place at BCS offices in Southampton Street.

A little more detail is at the end of this email [full details on CAS website]

7. iDEA – Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award

https://idea.org.uk/  – the free scheme, supported by the Duke of York, helps people enhance their chances in the job market with digital and enterprise skills. Online challenges are split into four main categories, each with its own series of badges to be won – citizen, worker, maker, entrepreneur and gamer.

8. Rocket Fund – £5,000 available for IT projects launched this half-term

A match funding pot is available from Rocket Fund for ICT related projects this term – with 20x £250 boost available.

Rocket Fund is a free fundraising platform for schools. So far they have helped 250 schools raise over £200,000. They have just launched a new campaign with 20x £250 boosts available for tech projects launched after 3rd December. Is there any tech you’d like to buy? See Rocket Fund’s website for more details.

More detail on the Creative Computing courses

“We all want our pupils to experience an aspirational curriculum for computing that develops their knowledge, their skills and above all their interest in the subject but this can be hard when we’re struggling to keep abreast of the subject ourselves! This two-day course will help to plug some of those gaps and will help teachers who are in the early days of establishing the subject in their school to encounter engaging lessons and how they can be integrated into an inspirational scheme of work.

The course will be delivered across two days (the first in the early Spring term; the second in the Summer term) in a number of locations in England.”

If you’d like to receive a copy of the newsletter in future please use the orange form on this page.



TLC newsletter – October 2018

We’re trialling a newsletter for those who’ve signed up to be kept informed of Teaching London Computing’s activities and resources. This is sent to our subscribers* and added to the website for everyone.

*To subscribe, use the orange form here.

1. Black History Month

Screenshot 2018-10-29 09.20.11

Our current resource celebrates Black History Month with information about several black computer scientists. You might also like this infographic – 7 Black Pioneers in Computer Science, by Jordan Streeter. Find out more about diversity in computing.

2a. Hallowe’en fun
There are lots of free activities to download on our site with new ones being added every month as time permits. From the Hallowe’en vaults we have some slightly spooky puzzles for younger children including a colour-in pumpkin (a Pixel Puzzle) and a word puzzle (Kriss-Kross).

Screenshot 2018-10-29 09.22.06

2b. Other resources

Maths Kriss-Kross puzzles involve multiplication to get the answer – “Solve these maths puzzles as a way to develop logical thinking and pattern matching skills needed to enjoy both computing and maths, while practising maths too.

3. New issue of CS4FN – out soon
The latest issue of CS4FN magazine (issue 25) will be on Wearable Computing and should be out next month. PDF copies of the magazine will be posted online soon.

Currently you can catch up with issue 24 (and all our back issues) here.

If you’re not already receiving FREE copies of CS4FN at your school please sign up here (UK schools only), and pass on the info to a colleague. We have a few back issues too (you can use the same page to request them) and we’re happy to send some out while stocks last.

For primary-aged pupils (~9-12) we also have copies to give away to UK schools of issues 1, 2 and 3 of A Bit of CS4FN.

4. New computing courses from King’s College London
The BlueJ outreach team based at Kings College, London (run by Michael Kolling and Neil Brown) is offering FREE CPD workshops to teachers of KS3 and KS4 and KS5 pupils. These need a minimum of six teachers to run and require a venue with computers / laptops, internet connection and a projector / screen.

There are 3 Workshops available and they require a minimum of 6 attendees:
• Teaching Greenfoot with Stride – Programming after Blocks (KS3)
• Teaching Java with Greenfoot (KS4)
• Teaching Java with BlueJ (KS4/5)

More details about each workshop and what Greenfoot, Stride and BlueJ are available here. To book a workshop please email team@bluej.org with three dates/times.

5. Christmas Lecture – save the date: 5 December 2018
Each year the Computer Science department at Queen Mary University of London has a celebratory free (Eventbrite ticketed for catering purposes) Christmas Lecture for schools and families, with mince pies. This year the topic will be Game AI – we’ll add a link to this page when the tickets go live and there’s more information.

Game AI Unleashed!
Wed 5 Dec 2018
FREE (attendance is free but please register in advance)
Doors: 5pm, lecture 5:30-6:30pm, drinks and mince pies afterwards
More info and tickets: http://www.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/items/game-ai-unleashed.html

Flyer (PDF): IET-QMUL Christmas Lecture 2018

Information about our previous Christmas lectures: 2017, 2015