CPD day for London computing teachers at the CAS London annual conference

Teaching London Computing’s Paul Curzon and William Marsh will be presenting at the CPD day for London computing teachers at this year’s CAS London conference, £25 for London teachers, £60 for those outside London (BOOK TICKETS). Read on for more information…

Sat 27 Feb

When: Saturday 27th February
Where: London (Gladesmore Community School, Crowland Rd, N15 6EB)
Tickets: £25 (London), £60 (elsewhere) – BOOK HERE
Event flyer: DOWNLOAD and please share with colleagues

Approximate timings of Paul’s and William’s sessions (note timings may change by +/- 10mins).

Paul Curzon
Unplugged Sorting algorithms – 10:00pm

Using Magic to teach computing – 2:30pm

William Marsh
Python Advanced GUI – 12:30pm
LMC 1 – Introduction Afternoon – 2:30pm

Here’s the information from CAS London about the conference –

CAS London’s Regional Conference, a day of CPD for primary and secondary teachers of computing

For those who need to gain confidence to teach programming, those who are brushing up on skills and those looking to find out about recent developments in computer science education.

HANDS ON Workshops, ready to use resources.

  • Select 4 x hour long workshops from 7 workstreams of  more than 28 workshops.
  • Introductory and advanced programming on Scratch, Kodu, Python, Visual Basic, LMC, Java and more.
  • Pedagogy, assessment, exam boards,  magic to teach algorithms, computational thinking, unplugged sorting …
  • Introductory physical computing with BBC Micro:bit, Raspberry Pi and Engduino.
  • Cross curriclar Maths and Scratch, DT and Crumbles.
  • Workshops led by Paul Curzon, Phil Bagge, Mark Dorling, Sue Sentance, Michael Kölling, Rob Leeman (OCR), Matt Walker (AQA) and many other leading CPD providers.

Nominal charge to cover lunch and admin.

We are funded by the Department for Education to support teachers in London, hence the reduced fee for London educators.

Teachers from further afield are very welcome, as are educators working with CLCs, boroughs and Coding Clubs.

Trainee teachers and University/ITT representatives are most welcome and also invited to attend.

At lunch time there will be a market place where voluntary groups, industry and other suppliers will be on hand to share their resources and ideas on careers, coding clubs, ed tech products etc.

If you would like to showcase at the market place please contact jane.waite@computingatschool.org.uk

About CAS London
CAS London, the Computing At School regional centre for London, is run by King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London. It co-ordinates CAS activity in London, supporting teachers of Computing through CAS Master Teachers, Hubs and Lead Schools.

Find out more about CAS and CAS London.


Our next events: [teachers] free workshop, not-free ‘Intro to Arduino’ miniCPD, [kids] free magic show

Our diary of events is as follows, everything is taking place at QMUL (Mile End Campus). Details and tickets below.

  • Saturday 21 November (1-5pm) £30/60
    Introduction to Arduino, with Nicola Plant – a ‘miniCPD’ session on programming using an Arduino with simple electronics
  • Wednesday 25 November (5-6.30pm) FREE
    Sorting Unplugged, a free workshop with Paul Curzon
  • Saturday 28 November (1-5pm) £30/60
    Introduction to Arduino, with Nicola Plant – a ‘miniCPD’ session on programming using an Arduino with simple electronics – note that this session is identical to the one on the 21st, we’re running it twice
  • Wednesday 2 December (5-7pm) FREE
    The IET Christmas Children’s Lecture on ‘The Magic of Christmas Computer Science‘ with Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan

More details and tickets
Events for Computing teachers in London

Introduction to Arduino – Aimed at teachers of pupils at KS3 and above our miniCPD session will introduce you to programming using an Arduino with simple electronics. There are two identical sessions on Saturday 21 and Saturday 28 November, from 1-5pm, both capped at 15 guests.
[Tickets for 21 Nov session] [Tickets for 28 Nov session] £30 (London teachers) / £60 for teachers outside London

Sorting Unplugged‘ – demonstrating some practical and powerful ways to teach basic sort algorithms using unplugged methods, Wednesday 25 November 2015, from 5pm.
[Get a free ticket for this workshop]

Aimed at secondary school children and young people

The Magic of Christmas Computer Science‘ – a magic show powered by hidden computer science. Profs Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan present the IET’s Christmas children’s lecture
[Get a free ticket for this magic show]

Live in London? Have or care for children? Do they like magic, & free talks @QMUL abt computer science? Abracadabra!

Peter McOwan and Paul Curzon, both of QMUL and cs4fn fame, will be delivering the IET’s Christmas children’s lecture in The Great Hall of the People’s Palace at Queen Mary University of London on Wednesday 2 December. It’s completely free and doors will open at 5pm with the lecture starting at 5.30pm. There will be mince pies too.

magic of christmas computer science

FREE tickets for the ‘The Magic of Christmas Computer Science’, a magic show powered by hidden computer science, are available from Eventbrite and you can find out more information about the event and the speakers below. Please share this event flyer with others who might be interested.

About this event

Experience some amazing magic tricks and sneak behind the scenes to explore the maths and computing behind them.

Mathematics and computer science are behind today’s technological wizardry… Let Professors Peter McOwan & Paul Curzon, both scientists and magicians, be your guides to the secret world where science meets conjuring…

This special one-off Christmas event – co-hosted by the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary, and The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) – will be a fun-filled evening full of surprises.

The evening is aimed at secondary school aged students, but with surprises to be unveiled for both adults and young people alike. All are welcome so if you have a curious mind, book your (free) tickets below quickly as places are vanishing fast!

About the Speakers

Professor Peter McOwan QMUL Vice-Principal (Public Engagement and Student Enterprise) and Professor Paul Curzon.

Peter McOwan and Paul Curzon are Professors of Computer Science in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary College University of london. As researchers and academics they apply their ‘magic’ to everything from robotics and artificial intelligence to the software of medical devices. Their infectious enthusiasm for exploring the endless possibilities of computer science has led them both to be elected as National Teaching Fellows. They work closely with the ‘Computing at Schools’ network, Peter was a founding member.  Paul also runs ‘Teaching London Computing’, which creates inspiring activities for teachers to use in class.

The speakers also run ‘Computer Science for Fun’, a magazine about the fun side of computing. They have been giving linked computing magic shows for over 10 years.

magic of christmas pdf front cover

17:00     Registration
17:15     Seating
17:30     Start of Lecture
18:30     Reception
19:15     Close

Reasons to attend

Bring your children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces to show them what a career in Science and Engineering has to offer.

Additional information

There will be a reception and mince pies and some light refreshments for everyone after the lecture. All are welcome.

Information above adapted from IET and QMUL pages advertising the event

Summer School 2015 at @Ri_Science, for children 7-12, w Prof Paul Curzon on the magic of computer science

The Royal Institution (21 Albemarle St, London W1S 4BS) hosts public science events for all ages and is currently running a Summer School over the next few weeks with a range of science topics including maths, computing, cryptography, engineering, biomechanics and acoustics. The full programme covers workshops for children aged 7 and above with workshops for different year groups up to and including adults over 18.

Prof Paul Curzon, who has delivered many engaging workshops on the magic of computer science for teachers, will be delivering two workshops for school children on Tuesday 18th August.

The morning session will be for 7-9 year olds and the afternoon one for 10-12 year olds.

“When you learn to be a magician, it turns out you are learning the skills needed to be a great computer scientist too: computational thinking. In this workshop Paul Curzon will demonstrate some real magic tricks and teach the group how they are done so they can do the tricks themselves. Students will then use the magic to learn the linked basics of computer science and see what computational thinking is all about and how both magicians and computer scientists rely on it.

There will be a short break during the workshop and a drink and a small snack will be provided. Students should bring their own snack if they have any allergies.”

Morning workshop (Sunley Room)
The Magic of Computer Science with Prof Paul Curzon
Age group: 7-9 year olds – £30/27 (Faraday members)

Afternoon workshop (Library)
The Magic of Computer Science with Prof Paul Curzon
Age group: 10-12 year olds – £30/27 (Faraday members)

Financial assistance
The Potential Trust may be able to offer financial assistance to enable children to participate in Ri events and activities if this would otherwise be difficult. Please contact Anna Comino–James on 01844 351666 or email her at thepotentialtrust@gmail.com.

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.

Other courses, events and support for Computing teachers – a mini round-up

Teaching London Computing is one of several projects that support teachers in delivering the new curriculum. If you’re new to teaching Computing, or need a refresher there are lots of sources of information online and events around the UK. Here are a few examples.
A great place to start is Computing At School (CAS) which is free to join and has an active discussion forum as well as a free listing of events.

Computing At School: http://computingatschool.org.uk/

Diversity in Computing Conference 2014 – from Computing At School
The CAS #include Diversity in Computing Conference is an opportunity for teachers, professionals and academics to meet specialists in our 5 focus strands. Our strands are Gender, Ethnicity, Disability, Socio-Economic Status and SEN. The event will be a mixture of key note speeches and workshops. You will be able to choose to attend two out of our five workshops and gain an insight into how to promote inclusion in your chosen area.

It takes place (not in London) on Saturday 15 November 2014 from 10am to 3:30pm in Kingswinford.

#include – Computer Science for everyone, @CASinclude, http://casinclude.org.uk/

There are also some one-day courses for teachers such as “Moving from GCSE to A-Level OCR Computing” from Philip Allan Events / Hodder Education which takes place on Monday 10 November 2014, in London, from 10.15 to 4pm. There will also be an AQA course running on Monday 17 November 2014.

“We have designed this workshop to make sure your students perform to their highest level in AS and A2 Computing by providing you with in-depth advice on teaching the subject.”

Philip Allan Events for Teachers (Computing): http://www.philipallanupdates.co.uk/Subjects/Computing.aspx?sid=52

If you can’t easily attend a class in person there are online courses too such as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) – here’s one at Warwick University which started on 16 October but is still taking registrations.

Computing for Teachers MOOC: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/dcs/schools/cpd/
“This free online computer science course is aimed at teachers preparing to deliver the new computing curriculum. It will prepare you with the necessary subject knowledge and programming skills to be confident in teaching computing up to GCSE. The course provides in-depth coverage across 3 areas:
• Computing concepts,
• Programming in Python,
• How to teach the concepts”

Please note: as we do not know the detailed content of others’ courses we can’t endorse them – but we thought you might like to know about what other people and organisations are up to. We’re happy to mention free or paid-for courses and events on our pages that are relevant to London teachers (and we don’t charge for listing information, or accept any advertising ‘fee’).

Free Computing workshop with Paul Curzon – Unplugged programming / algorithms, Wed 29 Oct 1.30-5pm

Eventbrite - Free Computing workshop with Paul Curzon - Unplugged computing / algorithms at QMUL for this event on 29 October 2014, 1.30pm to 5pm.

On Wednesday 29 October 2014 Prof Paul Curzon will be doing a 3 hour workshop session at Queen Mary University of London on unplugged programming and algorithms. Previous sessions have proved extremely popular so we recommend booking early.

The workshop will start at 1.30 and continue until 5pm with a half hour break for tea and networking in the middle. These workshops are free for Computing teachers.

You can register for a free place using the orange Eventbrite button above or at the end of the page, or visit the Eventbrite page.

When: Wednesday 29 October 2014, 1.30pm to 5pm
Where: QMUL (Queen Mary University of London)
For whom: Computing teachers
What: Two workshops (click on the links below to find out more and download free class activity sheets)
Invisible palming! Intelligent paper? So what is an algorithm?
Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers
Cost: FREE!

Although these workshops are aimed at those who’ll be teaching the Computing Science curriculum we have made a few spaces (also free) available to ‘interested persons’ – ie anyone who is interested in finding out how aspects of the computing curriculum can be introduced into the classroom.

1. Invisible palming! Intelligent paper? So what is an algorithm?

A core idea in the computing curriculum is that of algorithms and algorithmic thinking. But what is an algorithm? We will demonstrate a series of fun and intriguing ways to introduce the core ideas about algorithms. You will pit your wits against my intelligent piece of paper looking not only what an algorithm is but whether machines can ever be intelligent. You will also learn how really simple magic tricks that anyone can do, can illustrate what an algorithm is in a much more fun way than making a cup of tea (!) and you will learn the magic too!

This session will cover:

  • What is an algorithm?
  • Can machines be intelligent?
  • Computational thinking: algorithmic thinking, abstraction

2. Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers

It’s easy to assume that programming is something you have to learn at a computer but if you want your students to deeply understand programming concepts, rather than blindly getting programs to work then unplugged techniques can work really well to get students started. We will see how to program a robot face that is made of students, look at a simple way to give a deep understanding of how variables work by making them physical, and see how to compile programs onto your class instead of onto a computer.

Session material This session will cover:

  • Inspiring ways to introduce programming away from computers.
  • What is a variable?
  • How does assignment work?
  • Programming simple objects
  • Introducing flow of control and if statements

Activities are suitable for all age groups and can be adapted to fit your teaching needs.


Paul Curzon is a Professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary, University of London. He runs the cs4fn ‘Computer Science for Fun’ (cs4fn) project, www.cs4fn.org. It aims to inspire school students about computer science through a series of free magazines, website and school shows. He regularly gives such shows around the UK as well as continuous professional development talks to teachers about the cs4fn approach to teaching. He is Director of the Teaching London Computing Project. He was made a UK National Teaching Fellow in 2010 in recognition of his excellence in teaching and outreach, was a finalist in the 2009 Times Higher Education Innovative Teacher of the year award and has twice won the student nominated Queen Mary award for excellence in teaching.

Eventbrite - Free Computing workshop with Paul Curzon - Unplugged computing / algorithms at QMUL for the event on 29 October 2014.

Paul Curzon gave a keynote at the Keycit2014 conference in Potsdam today

Prof Paul Curzon of Teaching London Computing, cs4fn (Computer Science for Fun) and chi+med* gave the keynote talk at the IFIP KEYCIT (Key Competences in Informatics and ICT) conference earlier today in Potsdam, Germany.

His talk / workshop “Unplugged computational thinking for fun” covered some of the ideas we encourage teachers to use when introducing computational thinking into the classroom. Paul included the Locked In activity, Invisible Palming (magic, with a computer-human interaction angle) and the Create-a-face activity – all of which are free to download, easy to use and highlight that computational thinking isn’t just about computers but about people too.

They are also part of wider thematic workshops, more information below:

The talk was recorded and we’ll share the video when we have it. Meanwhile others have been kind enough to share short video snippets of the free workshops for teachers that Paul does, and here’s a photo from his talk today.


*chi+med means Computer-Human Interaction for Medical Devices and is a project looking at ways in which interactive medical devices can be made safer.

How to enjoy a career in computing: the power of networks – 22 May, free, 5.15pm via @bcsacademy

Professor Dame Wendy Hall FRS FREng will present the 4th Karen Spärck Jones Lecture (an annual event that honours women in computing research).

A Digital Library by Eric Hackathorn

The influence of her work has been significant in many areas including digital libraries, the development of the Semantic Web, and the emerging research discipline of Web Science”

“In 1987, I co-authored a paper on the lack of women in computer science called “Where have all the girls gone?”. Twenty-seven years later things have changed depressingly little despite much effort across many different projects and initiatives. During that time however, I have (mostly) enjoyed a wonderful career in computing. In this talk I will reflect on how the power of networks has affected my career both in terms of the work I do and in terms of surviving, indeed thriving, in what is still very much a man’s world. I will also reflect on the current state of affairs with regards to women in computer science and in the wider STEM community. What lessons have we learnt and what hope is there for the future? As Karen Spärck Jones famously said – computing is too important to be left to men. But it is only by working together that we will change the gender balance in our industry. It’s time for men to make sacrifices as well.”

Karen Spärck Jones Lecture 2014 – Dame Wendy Hall
5:15 PM to 9:00 PM
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London , WC2E 7HA
Organiser: BCS Academy of Computing
Price: Free to attend
Book a free ticket.

Our sister site, cs4fn (Computer Science For Fun) has a magazine called ‘The women are here‘ all about women in computing.

cs4fn's magazine celebrating women's contribution to computing




What do we get up to in our free programming workshops for computing teachers? Pics from @GTaylorSTEM

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!

TLC audience pic01

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.

TLC audience pic02