Back issues of (some of) our cs4fn magazines available – free for UK schools

Our CS4FN magazines and Teaching London Computing booklets are hugely popular and read by school students for interest and enjoyment, as well as being used by teachers in computing classes and after-school clubs. We typically post out around 20,000 copies to subscribing UK schools (some schools take 1 copy, others have a class set) and we also send one-off boxes of magazines to UK schools and school-related events to give to visitors or to put in delegate bags.

We keep a few more copies of some of our back issues to give away to UK schools and if you’d like to order some please fill in the blue form below.

Note that this form won’t subscribe you to our mailing list(s) – if you’d like to subscribe to start receiving future cs4fn magazines and booklets please fill in [purple form 2] here, and if you’re a teacher based in London interested in our local events please fill in [orange form 1] on the same page. We’d also recommend familiarising yourself with CAS, Computing At School (it’s free to join) and particularly the CAS London Regional Centre (which is run by the same staff at QMUL and KCL that run Teaching London Computing).

 

Money available to support London teachers’ CPD / subject knowledge enhancement

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As one of the projects funded by the Mayor of London’s ‘London Schools Excellence Fund’, or LSEF, we receive the regular LSEF bulletins and this caught my eye…

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 16.07.39
…its text says…

“Calling all London teachers – LSEF Legacy Teacher Innovation Fund launched
Teachers can apply for up to £10,000 to boost their subject knowledge. The aims of the Fund are to:
•    Improve teacher subject knowledge and pedagogy
•    Improve students attainment and progress
•    Make available more resources and tools to use inside and outside of the classroom.
Please share this with your school networks.  The deadline for application is 12pm on Monday 16th May 2016. To apply please download an application form here.”

There is money available to support teachers in London develop their own knowledge and share their learning with other teachers. Computer Science is explicitly listed among the subject options, which also includes languages, maths, science and tech.

From the FAQ, teachers / applications must satisfy the following London Teachers Fund Criteria –

  • Improve the subject knowledge and pedagogy of teachers
  • Improve students attainment and progress
  • Make available more resources and tools for teachers to use in the classroom
  • You need to be a qualified teacher working in a school or state supported education provision in one of the 33 London Boroughs

Visit the Shine Trust’s website (who are managing the innovation fund for LSEF) for more information and links to application forms and the FAQ etc. Good luck :)

R4 programme on Ada Lovelace (2 days left to listen)

BBC Radio 4 has a two-part series on Ada Lovelace’s letters. Alas Part One of the series has already passed into the ‘programme no longer available’ territory, but Part Two (~28m) is live to listen to online for the next couple of days [at time of writing!].

Our cs4fn magazine special issue on Ada Lovelace isn’t going anywhere though, please download a free PDF at your leisure :)

adaletters.png

“In part two of this dramatization of The Letters of Ada Lovelace, Georgina Ferry reveals the nature of the relationship between the young heiress, Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) and the crusty mathematician, Charles Babbage (Anthony Head), inventor of steam-powered calculating machines.

More info at the programme’s page.

What else are we up to?

1.Saturday 21 Nov – £30/60, 2-5pm
Introduction to Arduino [info] [tickets]
Aimed at teachers of pupils at KS3 and above our miniCPD session will introduce you to programming using an Arduino with simple electronics.

2. Wed 25 Nov – FREE, 5pm
Sorting Unplugged [info] [tickets]
This is a free workshop, aimed at computer science teachers, which introduces sorting algorithms in an ‘unplugged’ style.

3.Sat 28 Nov – £30/60, 2-5pm
Introduction to Arduino [info] [tickets]
Aimed at teachers of pupils at KS3 and above our miniCPD session will introduce you to programming using an Arduino with simple electronics.

4. Wed 2 Dec – FREE, doors 5pm, show at 5.30pm
The magic of {Christmas} Computer Science – free magic show for young people. [info] [tickets]
This is a free public talk aimed at secondary school-aged children and their families & friends. Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan will present a fun magic show powered by hidden computer science. There are rumours of mince pies too.

 

 

Things I’ve learned while working on the Teaching London Computing project [Pt 1] Eventbrite is fab :)

I’m the Project Manager for Teaching London Computing, a project funded by the Mayor of London and Department for Education which supports London teachers who are delivering the new computing curricula. We do this through a variety of taught courses (covering both subject knowledge and pedgagogy relating to how best to introduce them in the classroom) as well as free workshops and downloadable classroom resources.

Colleagues teach the courses and create the activities and worksheets, other colleagues deal with evaluating the project and its impact (this is a non-commercial research project that takes place in two universities: Queen Mary University of London, where I work, and King’s College London, where I have a visitor’s pass).

At the end of the project (formally 30 September 2015 but we have a no cost extension until the end of the year to finish some bits and pieces off) we submitted a large and detailed self-evaluation document to our funders. In it we tried to capture more than just facts and figures (in fact we were encouraged to by the Mayor’s team as they want to know about challenges and anything that would help someone else running a similar project in future).

I wanted to write a series of blog posts about the day to day minutiae of running a project like this because I think that might also be helpful to people, at least I hope so.

Part One – Eventbrite is fantastic

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.01.27

One of our events

For our GCSE and A-level CPD courses, for each place we charge teachers £150 and another £150 to the Mayor’s office (non London teachers aren’t subsidised and must pay the full amount). It is very easy to set up a chargeable event on Eventbrite (the fiddliest bit was finding the IBAN number for QMUL and explaining that we’d be putting money into that account and then later moving it into under our own grant code) and handle payments through credit cards or via invoicing [we do the invoicing ourselves, not via Eventbrite].

I do remember explicitly writing in the report that time spent becoming familiar with the event management tools (and that includes the WordPress blog and Twitter, if you’re less familiar with using those) was time well spent.

We made use of various Eventbrite widgets. On the right hand side of any page on this website you will likely see an orange Eventbrite image / widget which will have information about our event when we’re running them (it will look a bit empty when we’re not). I set this up once and now whenever I publish a new event on Eventbrite it automatically appears here.

I also like the ‘buttons’ widget that lets you choose a button colour and text and then gives you a small piece of code to put on your website or in a blog post, like these, to encourage people to click for tickets. Of course you can just link to the ticketing page with a normal hyperlink, but this seems nice.

Eventbrite - QMUL: miniCPD - Introduction to Arduino, with Nicola Plant [21 Nov 2015]

Eventbrite - QMUL: Paul Curzon computing workshop - Sorting Unplugged – for Sorting Unplugged with Paul Curzon

Eventbrite - QMUL: miniCPD - Introduction to Arduino, with Nicola Plant [28 Nov 2015]

Eventbrite will even let you embed the payment options directly onto your website, again with a bit of code. I’ve not used this as I prefer people to go ‘off site’ to Eventbrite, but perhaps I’ve missed out by not using that option!

It’s extremely easy to gather contact email addresses from people who’ve signed up to our events, so that I can email them with joining instructions and generally keep in touch. Similarly it’s easy for them to send me, as event organiser, an email if they have questions.

Eventbrite also acts as a massive data record of all of the events we’ve hosted at QMUL and I can go back in time and search for any of our events (even once they’ve finished) so there’s little danger of losing any information.

When you sign up to one of our events we ask everyone a series of questions about their school – fortunately we don’t have to remember what these questions are each time we create a new event, thanks to the COPY event option. But we do have to remember to check the ticket prices (our miniCPD events are £30) and make sure that the dates when the tickets go on sale match the time when we want to sell them.

Most of our events involve people arriving once a week for 10 weeks so using the online checkin system for those events isn’t useful but it’s great for our one-off workshops where everyone comes to one event. You can just type in part of someone’s name and any name containing that string will appear.

It did take me a while to become properly familiar with Eventbrite but you can do all the vital things without training, and then spend a bit of time tinkering to get things right. They have fantastic help pages and the team at the company have always been vastly helpful whenever I’ve had a query.

Hopefully there will be more blog posts in this series as I’d like to talk about spreadsheet wrangling (and how I’ve learned some useful shortcuts there), also the fabulous Google Forms (and the resulting Google spreadsheets) and Google Fusion Tables which give you little maps of where you’ve done stuff. I was already familiar with Twitter and WordPress blogs but I might say something about those too.

Obviously there are other products on the market that do Eventbrite-like things. I use Eventbrite because the colleague from whom I took over had set things up already, so I’m not really familiar with ‘the competition’. I should add that neither QMUL nor King’s College London (nor the Mayor’s office) officially endorse Eventbrite, WordPress or even Twitter and this is solely my personal endorsement, because I’ve found it really useful.

Jo Brodie
Teaching London Computing

An invitation to join our ‘Engagement Network’ for Computer Science teachers in London

The Teaching London Computing project was a two year (2014-2015) project funded by the Mayor of London to support Computing teachers in London who are delivering the new computing curricula. We are currently in the middle of an A-level Computing CPD course and also have some new workshops (free) and miniCPD (not free) sessions coming up as the year ends. We hope to continue providing CPD support to London teachers as it has proved to be a popular and much-needed thing, and we like doing it.

Of course we are not the only organisation offering support and the Events pages at the Computing At School website has information about courses, events, resources etc available across the UK.

Teaching London Computing are applying for extra funding from the Mayor of London to further support teachers of Computing in London, building on the CAS London regional network and Teaching London Computing. As part of this we have been asked to give details of schools that will be involved in our application. If you would like to be part of this network please fill in the details in this Google form. Your data will be stored at QMUL and shared only with the Mayor’s office.

But I’m already on your mailing list, will that do?
Unfortunately not – people signing up to one of our mailing lists have agreed that we can use their contact details to send them information about our courses and events and / or to receive free copies of cs4fn magazines. We can’t assume that they’re happy to be in our engagement network unless they tell us, and we have to let them know how their data will be used as part of that separate purpose.

• Would you like to know about our future events for London teachers? Sign up here
• Would you like to receive free cs4fn magazines for your school? Sign up here (goes to cs4fn website)

What is Teaching London Computing currently up to?
We have around 20 teachers on our A-level Computing CPD evening course and we are running the following events in November and December.

1. Free workshop – £0
Sorting Unplugged with Paul Curzon
Date and time: Wednesday 25 November from 5.00pm until ~6.30pm
Location: Room BR 3.01 (Bancroft Road Teaching Rooms at QMUL)
[More info about Sorting Unplugged] [Get a free ticket for Sorting Unplugged

2. miniCPD sessions – £30 for London teachers, £60 for non-London teachers
Introduction to Arduino with Nicola Plant
Date and time: Saturdays 21 or Saturday 28 November, from 2pm to 5pm
Location: G2 Matlab, Engineering Building at QMUL
[More info about Introduction to Arduino]
[Buy a ticket to Introduction to Arduino – 21 November]  [Buy a ticket to Introduction to Arduino – 28 November]

As you might expect from the name, miniCPD sessions are somewhere between workshops and CPD classes and focus on a particular topic in depth.

3. Free magic show – for secondary school-aged children – £0
The Magic of {Christmas} Computer Science with Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan
We’re delighted to be hosting the IET Christmas Children’s Lecture at the People’s Palace (at QMUL). The Magic of {Christmas} Computer Science is a magic show powered by hidden computer science and will take place from 5pm to 7pm on Wednesday 2 December. Please pass this (and the attached flyer) on to your pupils and their families, thank you.
[More info about the magic show]  [Get a free magic show ticket] [Download a flyer]

Have you attended one of our courses or workshops? What did you think?

If you’ve attended one of our events we’d love to hear what you thought about it as our project comes to a close. We would like to know if our project has benefitted you as a Computing teacher and, if so, how. Please take a look at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TLCFinalSurvey (the survey should take around 10 minutes to complete).

Also – our next A-level Computing CPD course starts next Wednesday with FREE places for London Master Teachers.


The current incarnation of Teaching London Computing aka ‘TLC’ (as funded by the Mayor of London’s London School’s Excellence Fund grant) is coming to an end however we are very keen to continue with the project and make it sustainable.

We know from teachers telling us (thank you!) that they really value our in-depth CPD courses, our ‘miniCPD‘ sessions, and our free workshops are perennially popular too. We also know that lots of teachers in London, the rest of the UK and even from around the world are downloading and using our free classroom resources – hooray! We know this partly because people tell us, but also from the website stats (at time of writing we’ve just passed 87,000 blog ‘hits’) and the figures telling us that our PDF have been downloaded around 28,000 times.

The team behind TLC (staff from Queen Mary University of London and King’s College London) have taken on the role of one of the new CAS regional centres (we’re ‘CAS London’) and we’ve working with CAS to enable Master Teachers to attend free* at our next course (A-level Computing CPD, starting on Wednesday 7 October 2015) *while places last.

Thank you for making this project so interesting and rewarding, from all of us at Teaching London Computing.

Launch event for the new CAS London Regional Centre (Computing At School) – Fri 10th July

Queen Mary University of London and King’s College London will be involved in running the new CAS London Regional Centre (this is separate from Teaching London Computing project but many of the same people are involved). There will be a launch event [free] from 4.30pm on Friday 10 July and the invitation and details are below. [Eventbrite link for the meeting]

Find out more about CAS London @cas_london_crc.

Here is a map of the CAS regional hubs and Computing at School‘s website, and they’re @CompAtSch on Twitter.


We would like to invite you to the first CAS London Meeting. This is a regional collaboration bringing together primary and secondary teachers, Computing At School master teachers, hub leaders, lead schools, universities, boroughs and other training groups and interested parties to promote and support computing education in London. The meeting aims to start a discussion of how we can best mutually support each other, further developing our London education computing community.

The twilight event is on Friday 10th July 2015, at King’s College London.

Here is the link to eventbrite invitation.

Outline:

  • 4:30 Networking tasks & refreshments
  • 5:30 Keynote speaker Simon Humphreys
  • 5:45 Contributed presentations: What’s happening in London?
  • 6:30 Working together: Tasks
  • 7:00 Finish – more refreshments and networking

We aim to explore three questions about computing CPD and teaching computing in London schools: What is working well? What help do you need? What can you offer others?

If possible, can you create 1 or 2 slides with your answers to the above questions and send them to us. We will share your slides on a rolling display during the networking sessions and ask a number of contributors to talk through their slides in the contributed presentations session (maximum of 4 minutes per presentation).

Join us to celebrate the work done by our fantastic community of computing educators (that’s you) and to find out how we can further grow and develop the network of support and computing CPD provision across London.

For more information and to share your slides please contact Jane (jane.waite@computingatschool.org.uk) or Trevor (trevor.bragg@computingatschool.org.uk)

Many thanks
Paul Curzon, William Marsh, Jane Waite, Trevor Bragg, Sue Sentance

The CAS London meeting is supported by ‘Computing at School’ and ‘Teaching London Computing’, which is funded by the Mayor of London and Department for Education. The meeting is being organised by London’s CAS Regional Centre (CRC) a collaboration between Queen Mary University of London and King’s College London.’

New free activity: The Emotion Machine – ready to download and print, with instructions

Computing teachers might find this useful, newly published on our website.

Emotion Machine bThe Emotion Machine

Age group: 7 – 12
Abilities assumed: None
Time: 40-60 minutes
Size of group: 1 upwards

Focus
• Programming
• Sequences
• Low-level code and high-level commands
• Compilers and interpreters
• Abstraction
Summary
Students create and program a 2D robot made of card to show different emotions. They create a table that can be used to translate emotions (high level commands) into low level machine instructions.

robot pdf

Click to download the PDF. Click the link above to visit the info page for instructions.

Introducing: free booklet “The magic of computer science: magic meets mistakes, machines and medicine”

Blogpost crossposted on both CHI+MED and Teaching London Computing sites.

We have a new booklet out which you can download as a PDF (click on the picture below to visit the book’s microsite) and find out more about where “magic meets mistakes, machines and medicine”.

The Magic of Computer Science 3: magic meets mistakes, machines and medicine
magicbookcover3cs4fn (Computer Science for Fun) is an outreach project from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) which aims to enthuse school-aged children about computer science. There’s a website and a magazine (usually two issues a year) with special issues and booklets – this is the latest magic booklet.

Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan who set up cs4fn at QMUL are both magicians and also both work on the CHI+MED project and Teaching London Computing. Previous blog posts have referred to to CHI+MED’s use of magic in our public engagement work.

“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.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 17.22.36

This comes from page 9 of the booklet.

This booklet is published by cs4fn (Computer Science for Fun) in partnership with Teaching London Computing (TLC) and CHI+MED. CHI+MED is funded by the EPSRC and Teaching London Computing by the Mayor of London and the Department for Education.

Download the Magic books

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.