Paul Curzon’s doing some Holiday Workshops for young people @Ri_science

Yellow background with black text advertising the names of the three workshop themes. Each theme has two workshops, one for kids age 7-9, one for kids age 10-12

The Royal Institution has a large series of STEM Holiday Workshops for young people, with sessions for different age groups. Paul Curzon is running six workshops over three days, each day having a theme, with a morning session for 7-9 year olds and the afternoon session for 10-12 year olds. Each place costs £35 (£29.75 for Ri Young Members. Financial support may be available from The Potential Trust (info in each link below).

Holiday workshops: The magic of computer science

Learn the logic of computing in this fun magic-based workshop.

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.

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.

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.

[Magic workshop 1, age 7-9, 11am-1pm] [Magic workshop 2, age 10-12, 2-4pm]


Holiday workshops: AI, but where’s the intelligence?

Explore the basics of artificial intelligence in this hands-on workshop.

We all know the movie plot, evil robots and computers taking over the world, but what is the reality? We will explore artificial intelligence, the field of science that tries to build ‘thinking machines’. How are they built? Are they really intelligent? And what is intelligence anyway? We will also ask some interesting questions about a well-known ‘thinking machine’, you! Along the way we will play some games including building a working brain to play snap out of rope, tubes, and you.

[AI workshop 1, age 7-9, 11am-1pm] [AI workshop 2, age 10-12, 2-4pm]


Holiday workshops: Becoming a usability expert: Why are gadgets so hard to use?

Why are so many computer gadgets so hard to use? (especially, apparently, for parents!) It’s because most are poorly designed. To design gadgets better, programmers need to understand people not just technology. Usability experts, who do understand people including why we make mistakes, help programmers improve their designs. We will investigate bad designs and see why they are bad, explore what makes good design and look at how the experts use the science of how people think to make gadgets easier for everyone to use, setting you on the path to becoming a usability expert.

[Usability workshop 1, age 7-9, 11am-1pm] [Usability workshop 2, age 10-12, 2-4pm]


Other workshop topics (given by different people) include the following, and most have a couple of different versions of the session, stratified by audience age. See the full list of holiday workshops (and talks).

  • Forensics
  • ScratchMaths – coding with maths
  • The mathematics of rainbows
  • Anamoprhic art
  • Where is engineering?
  • Geometry, code and embroidery
  • Extract your own DNA
  • Chases and escapes (curvy maths)
  • How big is the universe?
  • The magic of computer science – itemised above
  • AI, but where’s the intelligence – itemised above
  • Making music and sound with BBC Micro:bit
  • Magnets and motors
  • Intro to the BBC Micro:bit
  • Stories from maths
  • Mathematics for astronomers
  • Loudspeakers and acoustics
  • Becoming a usability expert: Why are gadgets so hard to use? – itemised above
  • Fantastic plastic
  • Bacterial evolution
  • Building with STIXX
  • Electrical circuits
  • Drawing Islamic geometry
  • Mathemagics
  • Cosmetic chemistry
  • Skateboards to starships (laws of motion)
  • Mathemagics
  • Networks (Euler)


Teaching London Computing – Newsletter #9 – May 2021

This is the full text of the 9th newsletter which I (Jo B) normally send to all London-based teachers on our Teaching London Computing subscription list. Teachers outside London usually get a shorter version with anything geographically irrelevant (ie things happening in London) removed, however during lockdown this is less clear.

I also send an occasional version to our international subscribers. Details in the text below on how you can sign up if you’re reading this for the first time and would like to get the emailed version in future. It’s all free :)


Dear colleagues

Welcome to May 2021’s Newsletter 9 (previous newsletters live here).

We are currently working on the next issue of CS4FN magazine, on Smart Health, which should be arriving online imminently, and physically in subscribing schools in a few weeks. Changes to working practices during coronavirus made it impossible to publish an issue last year. All of our previous issues are free to download as PDFs and if you’d like to sign up to receive printed copies please see [1] below.

As always please feel free to share this newsletter by forwarding it to colleagues in case they’d like to sign up too – new readers can sign up using the orange form on this page.

You are receiving this email because you’ve previously signed up to the ‘TLC mailing list’ to hear about new courses and resources etc but if you no longer want to hear from us please let me know and I’ll remove you.

Follow us on Twitter @cas_london_crc or @cs4fn.

Table of Contents
1. New CS4FN magazine – Issue 27 – Smart Health
2. CS4FN blog (new) and Teaching London Computing blog
3. Resources
4. Computing Education Research

1. New CS4FN magazine – Issue 27 – Smart Health
CS4FN (Computer Science For Fun) is the computing magazine for schools from Queen Mary University of London’s Computer Science department. It was co-founded by Profs Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan in 2005 and all back issues can be downloaded here.

In our next issue we look at how computer scientists are creating intelligent programs and tools to support medical decision-making, supporting patients and doctors, with a particular focus on the Pambayesian research project (patient managed decision-support using Bayesian Networks).

1a. Last call for subscribers! (for this issue)
We send around 24,000 copies to 2,400 subscribing UK schools (some subscribers have 1 copy for the library, some have 30 for a class set etc) and if you’re not yet among them but would like to be please use the purple form here. If you’re not sure if you’re already subscribed please email Jo to check. Please sign up by midday Friday 14th May for this issue.

2. CS4FN blog (new) and Teaching London Computing blog
As a new way to access CS4FN articles we are posting both new and archive articles from the magazine on our new blog site at Read fun, accessible articles about research and leading-edge technology, learn as you go, and become inspired about Computer Science, Audio and Electronic Engineering.

We publish articles for teachers on our sister site, Teaching London Computing, which is also packed full of free classroom resources.

Some recently added articles on the CS4FN blog

From last year on the Teaching London Computing (TLC) blog for teachers


3. Resources
3a. Greek translation of The Chocolate Turing Machine’ talk
For any Greek speakers Paul gave his workshop on ‘The Chocolate Turing Machine’ at the online Computing at School Festival in Greece (to hundreds of Greek schools) a recording of which is available on YouTube, which had a live translator. The main presentation begins at around 28min 40s. More on the Chocolate Turing Machine.

3b. STEM Learning eLibrary
The STEM Learning eLibrary has added another three of our teacher resources to its curated collection of CS4FN / TLC resources.

  • Roman numeral pixel puzzle [TLC page | STEM Learning eLibrary page] – learn about pixels and Roman numerals in this colour-by-number puzzle from which a mosaic-style picture will emerge (printable or spreadsheet version available)

  • Hieroglyphs pixel puzzle [TLC page | STEM Learning eLibrary page] – this time hieroglyphs provide the code to colour in an Egyptian-style picture (can be done on paper or on a computer)

  • Sequencing / looping puzzle (frogs & tadpoles) [TLC page | STEM Learning eLibrary page] – introduce sequences and loops by putting five stages of a frog’s life cycle in the right order – a printer is needed for this one but the cartoon drawings are simple enough to copy by hand if one isn’t available.

3c. Command Line Heroes Podcast – Dr Clarence Ellis
Prof Paul Curzon was one of the guests on the latest (S6E5) episode of the Command LIne Heroes podcast, talking about the work of Dr Clarence Ellis who was the first Black man to earn a PhD in Computer Science (and whose CS4FN article by Paul you can read here). Dr Ellis developed ‘Operational Transformation’, a tool which lets multiple people edit a document all at the same time without interfering with each other’s work (we use this a lot in Google Docs). Paul also talks about his own approach to CS4FN (Computer Science For Fun) and inspiring young people to find out more about computer science and its history.

4. Computing Education Research
For educators interested in computing education research Jane Waite organises a monthly ‘book club’ at 7.30pm on the first Thursday of every month for CAS (Computing At School). The events are free, organised via a Facebook group, ticketed by Eventbrite and held on Gather Town – find out more here, in particular the Joining In button.