Paul Curzon from @QMUL and @cs4fn has been making faces at #casneconf :)

Paul Curzon gave a talk at the Computing At School North East conference this morning and judging from the tweets (see below) it seems that people enjoyed themselves. Paul uses magic and audience participation to demonstrate fun and easy ways of introducing programming topics into the classroom and delivers a series of free workshops for London teachers.

(More tweets from the #casneconf below)

If you’re enjoying his talk and wondering about the resources then the links below should help. We’re posting out printed copies to our subscribers but anyone can download free PDFs of our booklets.

The Magic of Computer Science 3: magic meets mistakes, machines and medicine
magicbookcover3This book is published by cs4fn (Computer Science for Fun) in partnership with Teaching London Computing (TLC) and CHI+MED. TLC is funded by the Mayor of London and additional funding from the Department for Education has enabled us to send copies to schools of this booklet beyond London. It is also supported by Computing At School. Click on the picture for more information.

“The cs4fn magic books are collections of easy to do magic tricks (mainly simple card tricks). The twist is that every trick comes with a link to some computer science too. That means that as you learn the tricks, you will learn something about what computer scientists get up to too.

Magic is a combination of a secret method and a presentation. A computer scientist would call the method an algorithm, and that is all a computer program is too. The presentation corresponds to the interaction design of a program. For a magic trick to delight, you must get both the algorithm and presentation right. The same is true for programs”

Computational thinking: searching to speak
Searching to Speak A5 blueThis booklet was produced as part of the Teaching London Computing activities and has been used in one of our free workshops. It highlights how computational thinking can help people, for example in speeding up tasks, but also focuses on remembering when it’s appropriate to use technological solutions and when it isn’t.

Computational Thinking: Searching To Speak is a glossy booklet that shows computational thinking in action embedded in a story about helping people with disability, even without technology. It shows how the separate elements of computational thinking combine in interdisciplinary problem solving. Along the way it teaches some core search algorithms. It is written by Paul Curzon of Queen Mary University of London based on the cs4fn approach.”

Click on the picture to download a copy of the PDF, or read more about it and also see how it’s used in the workshop.

The Create-A-Face activity

IMG_0942 - Paul Curzon at CASneconfIn the picture on the left (taken by Sue Sentance at the CAS NE Conference) Paul Curzon is instructing members of the audience to create a face whose expression can be programmed with simple instructions.

“Explore programming by making an affective (relating to moods and emotions) robot face out of card, tubes and students. Program it to react to different kinds of sounds (nasty, nice or sudden) and show different emotions (sad, happy, surprised). Then think up some other facial expressions and program rules to make the face respond to sounds with the new expressions.”

Download everything you need (apart from the cardboard tubes!) to recreate this in your classroom, from our Create-A-Face Activity page.

Tweets from the Computing At School North East Conference about Paul Curzon’s talk

The tweets above refer to the Searching to Speak booklet and the one below to the latest magic book. Most of the final tweets refer to the Create A Face activity.

Computational creativity – free PDF magazine (issue 18) from @cs4fn

From our sister project cs4fn (Computer Science for Fun) here’s the latest issue (#18) of the magazine, which is all about Computational Creativity. Download your free PDF copy or read some of the example articles at the magazine’s microsite for issue 18.

cs4fn magazine is published by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and is aimed at school pupils. QMUL has partnered with King’s College London to provide CPD courses for teachers who are teaching the new Computing curricula at GCSE and A-level. Thanks to funding from the Mayor of London we’re able to offer a 50% discount (£150) on our courses for teachers in London. More about our funding here.

Our next two courses for Computing teachers are happening over Easter – one is a one-week intensive and the other is the same length but spread over a few days.

GCSE Easter

Teaching London Computing’s new CPD A-level Computing course features on the #LondonEd website, via @LLSinfo

Teaching London Computing is one of several projects funded by the Mayor of London’s ‘London Schools Excellence Fund’ (LSEF). You can find out more about the funded projects on the LondonEd website (which is part of the London Leadership Strategy @LLSinfo) on their blog.

London Ed

The Logo for the LondonEd website

This is also a site where the projects can share their learning with each other, and everyone else, and there’s some good advice in their ‘Sharing our learning‘ document (PDF) for anyone who has a message they want to share with others.

Their post on the Teaching London Computing project – CPD for Teachers of A-Level Computing – highlights our new course for teachers of A-level Computing (which will run from 18-22 August 2014) and also mentions our free booklet (also available to download as a PDF) on human factors in computing: Searching to Speak.

If you would like to find out more about our A-level course please visit the course page, and you are welcome to sign up to our mailing list to hear more about our future courses, free resources and workshops.




Calling UK teachers – free copies of cs4fn issue on computer science and medical devices

Free magazine for UK schools from cs4fn, about computer science, medical devices and patient safety.

cs4fn (Computer Science For Fun, based at Queen Mary University of London, QMUL) has been providing school students and teachers with inspiring resources, including magazines, magic books, puzzles and schools talks, about computer science for almost ten years.

Teaching London Computing is a spin-off project from cs4fn to explicitly support teachers. It is run jointly by QMUL and colleagues at King’s College London and provides courses and classroom resources for teachers who’ll be delivering the new KS3, GCSE and A-level Computing curricula. Primary school teachers are also finding many of the resources useful.

There’s also a bit of overlap with a third project, CHI+MED, which is adding a human dimension to cs4fn and TLC. It is funded by one of the UK’s research councils (EPSRC) to investigate how interactive medical devices could be made safer. That project runs over four universities (UCL, QMUL, Swansea University and City University) and the main investigator at QMUL, Prof Paul Curzon, is also one of the people behind cs4fn.

CHI+MED (computer-human interaction for medical devices) takes a very broad view of medical devices – how they’re designed, how they’re approved for use on the market, how people in hospitals decide which one(s) to buy and how they’re actually used in the real world by busy healthcare professionals. Computing is an important aspect of medical device design (software performs calculations and determines how the machine responds to keypresses when a nurse enters a drug dose) but it’s not the only one. It’s important to look at the people involved (the ‘human’ bit of ‘human-computer interaction) at every stage of device development and use too, for example when trying to reduce the harm that can arise when someone makes a slip in mistyping a drug dose.

Magazine cover for cs4fn's special issue on medical devices and patient safetyIssue 17 of the cs4fn magazine series is about the research that people on the CHI+MED project are doing along with related work of other groups. It provides a good overview of some of the issues that researchers are thinking about when looking at patient safety in medical devices. It also shows how computer scientists and researchers work with other types of scientists (ergonomists, human-factors experts) in trying to understand and solve a real-world problem.

Sign up for free copies of the magazine
cs4fn already sends copies of the magazines to schools who subscribe. If you are a teacher or school librarian who would like to receive one or more copies (up to a class set of 30*) of this, and future magazines, please fill in your school’s address details (UK addresses only please) on this form and we’ll do the rest (while stocks last). The magazine is free due to support from EPSRC and Google.

*If you need a larger number of copies, eg for an event, please get in touch ( and we’ll do our best to get more to you.

[This post cross-posted to both Teaching London Computing and CHI+MED blogs]