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

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 (cs4fn@eecs.qmul.ac.uk) and we’ll do our best to get more to you.

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