Best of BETT
by Wendy MacLeod, CAS Community Outreach Manager
E.a.R.L Coding Robot – Similar to the Beebot in appearance but has more extensive features. E.a.R.L is compatible with Scratch and the child’s code is downloaded to the robot via a USB connection. The robot has a 250 step memory and a transparent green body so children can exactly how he works. Developed by Hope Education, the robot retails at £47.99. Free user and teacher guides can be downloaded from their website.
Parent Zone are working in partnership with Google to run teacher workshops about their Internet Legends resources (Online safety). More info can be found at: www.g.co/BeInternetLegends and the KS2 teacher free pack can be ordered at www.parentzone.org.uk/be-internet-legends Parent Zone are interested in exploring ways in which we can work in partnership with them to reach primary teachers with the free resource and free teacher workshops.
Spoke to Chris Byers (Director and Founder of Edugeek). Edugeek is a free online community for Computing support staff like school IT technicians. There are many similarities to Computing at School and it may be interesting to chat further with him about Edugeek and particularly how his organisation supports its members. I know he mentioned different ways they reward them (e.g. social events) Chrisbyers@edugeek.net
mTiny is an early childhood education robot. Suitable for use in the early years and KS1. Children tap on coding cards to code and these cards fit together like puzzle pieces to create a sequence. The robot has 300+ sound effects, 50+ creative combinations, 30+map reactions and 10+ facial expressions. Computational thinking is developed by completing tasks assigned on the storybook or playing freely to discover different solutions. www.makeblock.com/mtiny
Flipgrid is a video conversation app. It is a free application made by Microsoft. A conversation is started with a prompt – a 3minute video which prompts a discussion. The prompt has a code attached to it which is found at the top of the page and this can be emailed out. This creates a link which then directs people back to the page to post their own video responses. Once a user returns to the page they click on the large green + button and get a 90 second video response. Introduction to Flipgrid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aZ523-HHBg
Nuance Hearing Sound Selector is a listening enhancer for anyone who is looking to improve their attention in learning environments. The device lets you hear clearly the person you choose while tuning out all other directions. A great device for children who have ADHD as it aids attention and minimises distraction. It is circular and automatically picks up the direction of the person speaking. Currently retailing at £299 including VAT. www.nuancehear.com
Three companies produce online training for school leaders (Care Monkey, iHasco and National Online Safety). Existing online training courses which we could use with our Community leaders are Data Protection & GDPR, Mental Health, Online safety, Prevent duty, Cybersecurity, Ofsted and Safeguarding KCSiE).
Visited BBC Bitesize stand who were promoting their new English and Maths games. I asked if they had any plans to create games/resources which support the Computing curriculum.
Spoke to Andreia Marzigliano (UK Partnership Co-ordinator) from Girls who can Code. Free online training for teachers. Their clubs are aimed at 11-18 year olds. More information can be found here: https://girlswhocode.com/
Spoke to Laura Cumming (User Experience Designer) from Code for Life (Sponsored by Ocado). They produce free online games which help children to code. Rapid Router for 6-13 year olds and Kurono for 13+. Please check out their website for more information: https://www.codeforlife.education/play/
Top 5 things at BETT
by Peter Marshman, CAS Community Outreach Manager
My top five experiences at BETT are:
OHBOT – Picoh
Having previously been a Crowdfunder for the original OHBOT, it has been fantastic to see how the chatbot has been used in schools and how the original prototype has advanced. The arrival of Picoh – a programmable chatbot using block coding or Python which comes pre-built provides a quick and accessible classroom resource just waiting to be brought to life with the multi-pixel display providing a huge range of opportunities to explore different facial expressions. There are a range of lesson resources developed by teachers on the ohbot.co.uk website which begin with the simple head-nodding activities through to creating your own chatbot which will responds to instructions as a school digital receptionist. It’s a great way to introduce pupils to AI and also build contextual lesson content which could explore expert systems through branching trees.
Kubo caught my eye from some distance at BETT – a robot that executes instructions in the form of connectable tiles. Similar to Beebots, pupils can create a sequence of instructions such as moving forward, turning and additional functionality such as lighting up and vibrating. It occurred to me how wonderful this resource is for providing pupils with a physical sequence of instructions using the tiles and being able to debug them as they watch the robot travel over the squares and execute each instruction. It provides pupils with an almost interpreted approach to programming rather than the more compiled approach of storing a number of instructions and having to reset each time a minor correction is required with the algorithm created. KUBO also introduces variables and conditions allowing more complex algorithms to be created. With a range of tile packs available, pupils can explore from sub-routines and functions through to selection and random sequencing.
Google Be Internet Legends
Children need to make smart decisions to get the most out fo the internet and Be Internet Legends provides a fantastic exploratory environment for pupils to be confident navigators of the online world. Perhaps the most interactive part of this programme is the Interland online game which makes the four keystones of internet safety fun and engaging. The four games – Kind Kingdom, Reality River, Mindful Mountain and Tower of Treasure take around ten to fifteen minutes to complete and cover concepts from creating strong passwords through to guidance on talking to a adult they trust when children come across something they are not sure about online. With the accompanying schemes of work and lesson plans the Interland game cleverly forms part of a package that combines independent learning and teacher-led content. Be Internet Legends provides a interactive and self-paced game with all the creativity and intrigue that you can expect from Google.
The show was positively exploding with ideas for using the Micro:bit in the classroom, whether you are a novice or experienced teacher, or in primary or secondary education. The variety demonstrates the versatility of the Micro:bit. However, it was hard not to pick out the MAKEBIT Hover:bit demonstration taking the use of the Micro:bit to a whole new level. With a demonstration of the product using a plastic sealable bag used to simulate a loop skirt and a cardboard rudder, it was difficult not to imagine a group of students in the school hall racing their hovercrafts around a circuit. Although the product is not fully released as a product yet, I would certainly recommend singing up to updates about the product on the https://www.makekit.no/ website.
Kurono and Rapid Router
I’d heard of Rapid Router before but had never investigated it fully. It was wonderful to have a play with the environment that uses the Blockly code blocks to progress through challenges navigating vehicles – aimed at KS1-3 pupils. This is something that I wish to explore further to develop pupil’s algorithmic thinking and to develop key programming constructs such as sequence, selection and repetition. With the use of the split Blockly and Python interface it provides a great tool for transitioning from block to text-based programming languages. The new Kurono game allows students to code in Python in a multi-player turned-based game that allows them to complete challenges collaboratively. I’m really excited about exploring this when it has been fully developed as another way of developing collaborative coding techniques in the classroom which is always a winner in the classroom.