Computer Science, PE and Dance

PE and Dance may not seem like they has much to do with computing, but there are some clear links. A dance is just a series of steps to follow. To do the dance you have to follow the steps exactly and do them in the right order. A dance is just an algorithm executed by people that is enjoyable to watch. Choreographing a dance is very similar to writing a program. You also need similar computational thinking skills – attention to every last detail, thinking through the steps ensuring they not only work individually but work together, and evaluation of course is key. Writing down a dance needs notations not far removed from programs and the same constructs are needed – sequencing commands and loops. Dancers build steps into step sequences into whole dances.

Dance can be a fun way to both understand what an algorithm is and to explore different algorithms. Could you choreograph a dance based on an actual algorithm that demonstrated the beauty of the algorithm?

You can also choreograph animations of dances in programming environments like Scratch and Alice. Then choreography and programming really are the same thing.

Need a novel training exercise or a different event for a sports day that really requires thinking on your feet then try algorithmic PE! Read on.

Robot PErobotpegrid

  • Follow forward, backward, left and right instructions to move around a grid in turn in a tag relay. Variations bring in coordinates and conditionals.

BBC Live Lesson on dance and computing

Watch the BBC’s Strictly micro:bit programme [EXTERNAL] where we demonstrated The Bubble Sort Dance activity. The programme shows how the whole show can be linked to computing: the dance, the music, the lights, the costumes.


Activity Sheets and Booklets

Algorithmic PE

  • Beanbag bubble sort: Try this relay event. Each person must run to a line of buckets, picking any adjacent pair of buckets to check. They look at the numbered beanbags in the buckets and swap them if in the wrong order. They then return and tag the next person. The winner is the team to fully sort the beanbags in the shortest time. You could win by running the fastest, but get the algorithm right and  you will have to run a shorter distance – the intelligent way to win.
  • Beanbag search: A similar idea but this time about searching. Each person in the team is given a different coloured beanbag to find and bring back. You must run to a bin then back, before checking another. First team to collect all the beanbags wins. In a variation, the beanbags are numbered and in order. Search quicker using binary search.

Programmed PE

  • Danger Mouse Super Movers: The BBC say its just for fun but it looks like a computer science lesson to me…rather than playing a computer game, why not get the computer to play you  with the Danger Mouse Supermovers game.
    Get active and learn about following a sequence of instructions. Rather than controlling an avatar following your instructions, in this game you have to follow the sequence of instructions on the screen, jumping, dodging left or right to avoid the obstacles coming at you from the screen. There are lots of other versions available to eg Dr Who supermovers…

  • Conditional… Super Movers: You could create your own version where the instructions are given by a student volunteer. The screen with the action needed, the other holds up conditional statements like “If (you have a red cape) then …“. Give out superhero cards to everyone first describing them. This could also be Top Trump style eg “If (your strength is greater than 50) then …“.

External Resources

Turn dance moves in to a dance program in Scratch Junior with Code-IT’s Scratch Jr Dance activity.