Inspiring classroom activities

Teaching London Computing in conjunction with cs4fn have produced a series of fun, mainly unplugged, activities for use in the classroom, suitable for all ages.

  • The Locked In Activity
    • Explore the design of an algorithm to allow someone with locked-in syndrome to communicate.
    • Learn about computational thinking, search algorithms and comparing algorithms.
  • The 20 Questions Activity
    • Play the game of 20 questions and learn about divide and conquer search algorithms.
    • Learn about computational thinking, linear search, binary search, divide and conquer  and comparing algorithms.
  • The Australian Magician’s Dream Activity
    • Do a magic trick where your predict a chosen card.
    • Learn about algorithms, computational thinking, abstraction, logical reasoning,  computational modelling and searching.
  • The Punch Card Searching Activity
    • Demonstrate how early computers were able to find data stored on punch cards using a magic algorithm.
    • Learn about binary numbers, a divide and conquer algorithm for searching, computational thinking, translating solutions between problem areas.
  • The Bubblesort Activity 
    • Have the class act out an array and gradually work out how to sort it more efficiently.
    • Learn about sort algorithms, bubble sort, efficiency of algorithms, computational thinking, programming algorithms.
  • The Divide and Conquer Sort Algorithm 
    • Have the class act out an array and gradually work out how to sort it more efficiently.
    • Learn about sort algorithms, divide and conquer, merge sort, quick sort, efficiency of algorithms, computational thinking.
  • The Tour Guide Activity
    • Devise a tour that gets a tourist from their hotel to all the city sights and back to their hotel. 
    • Learn about algorithms, sequences of instructions, graphs, data representation, computational thinking, requirements.
  • The Knight’s Tour Activity
    • Solve a puzzle where you must find a way for a knight to visit every square on a board exactly once.
    • Learn about graphs, data representation, generalisation, abstraction, pattern matching computational thinking, graph traversal algorithms algorithms.
  • The HexaHexaFlexagon Automata Activity
    • Create a finite state machine version of graphs you have created or used to solve problems. See how to create models of things in the real world from puzzles to gadgets and web pages that you can then simulate to explore them.
    • Learn about graphs, finite state machines, specification, computational thinking, abstraction, data representation, generalisation, pattern matching, evaluation and logical thinking.
  • The JFLAP: Getting Started Activity
    • Create executable finite state machine versions of graphs you have created or used to solve problems. See how to create models of things in the real world from puzzles to gadgets and web pages that you can then simulate to explore them.
    • Learn about graphs, finite state machines, specification, computational thinking, abstraction, data representation, generalisation, pattern matching, evaluation and logical thinking.
  • The Intelligent Piece of Paper Activity
    • Take part in a test of intelligence against an intelligent piece of paper! 
    • Learn about algorithms, artificial intelligence, computational thinking.
  • The Sweet Learning Computer Activity
    • Create a machine from cups and sweets that learns to play a game! 
    • Learn about machine learning, algorithms for learning, artificial intelligence, computational thinking.
  • The Invisible Palming Activity
    • Do a trick where you magically move a card from one pile to another by palming it invisibly! 
    • Learn about algorithms, computational thinking, human computer interaction.
  • The Swap Puzzle Activity
    • Solve a puzzle, coming up with an algorithm that your team can follow faster than anyone else.
    • Learn about algorithms, computational thinking, testing, efficiency.
  • The Box Variable Activity
    • Run simple programs that involve variables and assignment on a computer made of students.
    • Learn about programming, assignment, variables, values, declaration, initialisation, sequencing
  • The Assignment Dry Run Activity
    • Dry run on paper simple programs that involve variables and assignment. 
    • Learn about programming, assignment, variables, values, declaration, initialisation, sequencing.
  • The Imp Computer Activity
    • Compile simple programs on to a computer made of students roped together then run it.
    • Learn about programming, if statements, flow of control, compile-time v run-time, compiler optimization.
  • The Create-A-Face Activity
    • Get the class programming a giant robot face – made of students.
    • Learn about programming, if statements, simple object-based programming, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence.
  • The Emotion Machine: Create-a-Face Card
    • A simple card cut out that turns into a programmable robot face that can express different emotions.
    • Learn about programs, sequences, decomposition, algorithmic thinking.
  • Spit-Not-So Activity
    • You play a  word game  showing that “due to you computational thinking skills” you are brilliant at it. 
    • Learn about data structures, human-computer interaction, computational thinking.
  • Magic: The Four Aces Activity
    • You do a magic trick where you steal all the Aces from a volunteer without anyone noticing.  
    • Learn about human-computer interaction, usability, designing to prevent error.
  • Magic: The Teleporting Robot Activity
    • You put together a jigsaw that has 17 robots, but then put it together again and now it only has 16.  
    • Learn about computational thinking, human-computer interaction, usability, designing to prevent error.
  • The Microwave Racing Video Activity
    • You show a video where people race different microwave designs to see which is easiest to use to do a simple task. Design does make a difference!
    • Learn about  human-computer interaction, usability, usability evaluation.
  • Magic: The Red Black Mind Meld Activity
    • You control the actions of another placing cards making a red black prediction come true.
    • Learn about  logical thinking, abstraction, mathematical models and uses of algebra.
  • The Sodarace Evolution Activity
    • The class engineer a creature to try and win a race and then let evolution loose.
    • Learn about computational modelling, evolution, abstraction, algorithmic thinking, genetic algorithms.
  • The Soda Constructor Physics Activity
    • Play with Soda constructor – a drawing program with the laws of Physics built in, where you can engineer creatures.
    • Learn about computational modelling, the laws of physics, abstraction, computational thinking, gravity, friction, springs.
  • JFLAP: Creating Finite State Machines 
    • Play with JFLAP – a finite state machine drawing program that allows you to draw graph-like pictures that represent systems and then simulate them.
    • Learn about finite state machines, Moore machines, models, computational thinking, abstraction, data representation, simulation.
  • TEMI: Using Mysteries to Support Learning
    • This guidebook for teachers describes the TEMI methodology which is an approach to teaching based on mysteries. Focussed on science generally, the approach applies to computing and other STEM subjects too.
    • Learn about mysteries as a way to support learning.

More of our resources, including linked computing ‘story’ booklets can be found in our resources section. You may also want to look at cs4fn’s teacher resources or browse the latest cs4fn magazine.

Other excellent sources of a similar style of activity are the New Zealand based but globally used CS Unplugged site and the Glasgow University CS Inside project.

2 thoughts on “Inspiring classroom activities

  1. Pingback: Paul Curzon’s workshop at #CASconf2014 (Computing At School conference) | Teaching London Computing

  2. Pingback: 2016: The Start of a New… Decade? Part 2 | Sustainable Nano

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