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, 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.