Summer School 2015 at @Ri_Science, for children 7-12, w Prof Paul Curzon on the magic of computer science

The Royal Institution (21 Albemarle St, London W1S 4BS) hosts public science events for all ages and is currently running a Summer School over the next few weeks with a range of science topics including maths, computing, cryptography, engineering, biomechanics and acoustics. The full programme covers workshops for children aged 7 and above with workshops for different year groups up to and including adults over 18.

Prof Paul Curzon, who has delivered many engaging workshops on the magic of computer science for teachers, will be delivering two workshops for school children on Tuesday 18th August.

The morning session will be for 7-9 year olds and the afternoon one for 10-12 year olds.

“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. 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. 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.

There will be a short break during the workshop and a drink and a small snack will be provided. Students should bring their own snack if they have any allergies.”

Morning workshop (Sunley Room)
The Magic of Computer Science with Prof Paul Curzon
Age group: 7-9 year olds – £30/27 (Faraday members)

Afternoon workshop (Library)
The Magic of Computer Science with Prof Paul Curzon
Age group: 10-12 year olds – £30/27 (Faraday members)

Financial assistance
The Potential Trust may be able to offer financial assistance to enable children to participate in Ri events and activities if this would otherwise be difficult. Please contact Anna Comino–James on 01844 351666 or email her at

New free activity: The Emotion Machine – ready to download and print, with instructions

Computing teachers might find this useful, newly published on our website.

Emotion Machine bThe Emotion Machine

Age group: 7 – 12
Abilities assumed: None
Time: 40-60 minutes
Size of group: 1 upwards

• Programming
• Sequences
• Low-level code and high-level commands
• Compilers and interpreters
• Abstraction
Students create and program a 2D robot made of card to show different emotions. They create a table that can be used to translate emotions (high level commands) into low level machine instructions.

robot pdf

Click to download the PDF. Click the link above to visit the info page for instructions.

Computational creativity – free PDF magazine (issue 18) from @cs4fn

From our sister project cs4fn (Computer Science for Fun) here’s the latest issue (#18) of the magazine, which is all about Computational Creativity. Download your free PDF copy or read some of the example articles at the magazine’s microsite for issue 18.

cs4fn magazine is published by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and is aimed at school pupils. QMUL has partnered with King’s College London to provide CPD courses for teachers who are teaching the new Computing curricula at GCSE and A-level. Thanks to funding from the Mayor of London we’re able to offer a 50% discount (£150) on our courses for teachers in London. More about our funding here.

Our next two courses for Computing teachers are happening over Easter – one is a one-week intensive and the other is the same length but spread over a few days.

GCSE Easter

Paul Curzon’s doing two free workshops next Friday afternoon (20th) for Computing teachers in London cc @cs4fn

Paul Curzon’s free workshops, held at Queen Mary University of London’s Mile End campus, are fun and informal and support teachers who want to introduce programming concepts and computational thinking into the classroom in an engaging way. Each workshop is accompanied by downloadable classroom activities (also free) – these can be downloaded from the links below.

Next week’s (Friday 20th February) is a double session but you can choose to come to one workshop, or both.

The first workshop is at 2pm then there will be a half hour break with the second starting at 4pm, we aim to finish at 5.30pm.

Do I have to be a London computing teacher to attend?
The workshops are aimed at those who are currently (or who are about to begin) teaching the Computing curricula (particularly GCSE and A-level, though the information in the workshops has been used with younger children). As we’re funded by the Mayor of London we prioritise those who are currently teaching in London schools. The workshops are not suitable for school pupils though as the events are about how to introduce computing concepts into the classroom. Contact Jo Brodie ( for further information.

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.

Workshop A:
Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers

2.00-3.30pm (free Eventbrite tickets)

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

Workshop B:
Computational thinking: it’s about people too

4pm-5.30pm (free Eventbrite tickets)

Computing is not just about technology, it is about understanding people too. When we solve computing problems we are solving them for people. Computational thinking is the general group of problem solving skills that students learn as a result of studying computing. Often this is equated with algorithmic thinking – a direct result of learning to program. However it just as important to make programs usable by people – or they won’t be used. We will see how magic gives a fun way to introduce these ideas and how a simple game demonstrates why graphical user interfaces are effective.

This session is in collaboration with CHI+MED: an EPSRC-funded project about making medical devices safer.

Session material This session will cover:

  • computational thinking: understanding people
  • human computer interaction
  • why GUIs are better than text-based interfaces
  • The importance of data structures

Round-up of Teaching London Computing’s free workshops, courses – and a CAS hub event

I’ve just emailed this to people who’ve signed up to receive info about our events and thought I’d post it here too.

We’re on Twitter @TeachingLDNComp.

Free workshops
25 June 2014, Hackney
Invisible Palming! Intelligent paper? So what is an algorithm?
4pm, Wednesday 25 June 2014
Cardinal Pole School, 205 Morning Ln, Hackney, London E9 6LG

8 July 2014, New Cross
Prof Paul Curzon will be giving a talk, “Teaching Computing Unplugged to Young Children” for primary school computing teachers on 8 July 2014 at a two-day workshop event at Goldsmiths in London. Please note that registration for this event is via Goldsmiths (given in link).

9 July 2014, Hackney
Programming Unplugged: Learning programming without computers
4pm, Wednesday 9 July 2014
Cardinal Pole School, 205 Morning Ln, Hackney, London E9 6LG

We have a new short CPD course for GCSE Computing teachers which will take place at KCL from 4-8 August (Mon-Fri) 2014. “Computing CPD GCSE Summer Holiday (1-week intensive)” costs £150 for London teachers (thanks to funding from the Mayor of London) and £300 for those outside London (if space is available).

Other events
Computing At School (CAS) – East London hub meeting, 8 July 2014, 4.30 to 6pm.
This event will take place in Islington at the City & Islington 6th Form College and is free to attend. As well as being a networking event for computing teachers the event will also plan ‘a practical using the Arduino Uno’ and discuss the new CAS document ‘Computing in the National Curriculum – A guide for secondary teachers‘.



FREE workshops next week at QMUL, for GCSE Computing teachers

TLC robot fauxgo title and URL

Prof Paul Curzon will be delivering four FREE workshops during half-term next week at QMUL (Queen Mary University of London) on Monday . These are fun, inspiring ‘unplugged’-style sessions which look at some creative ways of getting students to think about computing and programming concepts, without relying on computers, and are aimed at GCSE Computing teachers who’ll be delivering the new Computing curriculum.

Each session is accompanied by lots of free classroom resources and activity sheets to download, and of course an opportunity to share ideas with other workshop attendees.

We’ve arranged things so that there’s an hour between the morning and afternoon sessions (to make it easier for those who’d like to attend two in a day) but you’re welcome to come to as many of the workshops as you like.

The workshops are

A. Computational thinking: Searching to Speak (Website) (Eventbrite tickets)
Tuesday 27 May, 11.30am to 1pm

B. Computational Thinking: it’s about people too (Website) (Eventbrite tickets)
Tuesday 27 May, 2pm-3.30pm

C. Invisible palming! Intelligent paper? So what is an algorithm? (Website) (Eventbrite tickets)
Wednesday 28 May, 11.30am to 1pm

D. Programming unplugged: learning programming without computers (Website) (Eventbrite tickets)
Wednesday 28 May, 2pm-3.30pm

Cover of the Searching to Speak A5 booklet, click to open the PDF← Download a free copy of our latest booklet ‘Searching to Speak’ (which accompanies the first workshop in the series, on Tuesday morning) – click to open the PDF or right-click / save as to save a copy.


The admin bit:
All the workshops are free and will take place in Room 1.02 in the Law Building on Mile End Road. For those attending both morning and afternoon sessions (there’s an hour between the workshops) there are lunch options on campus (Mucci or Curve as well as snack shops) and plenty of food places on Mile End Road including a Sainsbury’s. You can attend as many workshops as you like.

Please contact me (Jo, if you have any queries.

Follow us on @TeachingLDNComp


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 ( and we’ll do our best to get more to you.

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