I was one of two teachers from East Lothian (the other being Emma Webster from PL) who attended the CS Inside workshop at Edinburgh Uni’s School of Informatics last night.
I’d first learned about CS Inside at the Future of Computing conference in May, and have been keen ever since to try out some of the ideas. Broadly speaking, the CS Inside project is an attempt to convey important Computing Science concepts in fun ways in the classroom. Computers are not required, and pupils learn about the concepts through role-plays and games that link back to the core concept you are teaching.
Our first challenge of the evening was to design and implement a simple communications protocol, Under the auspices of governers in an ancient city sending massages to each other on stone tablets. Of course, only a certain number of words can be etched on a tablet, and the slaves who deliver them can be notoriously unreliable!
In a room of 13 computing teachers no one actually managed to get a message transmitted, which is of course quite concerning! However, good fun and an excellent example of how something relatively dull like communications protocols can be made more interesting with some imagination. What’s more, all of the resources needed, lesson plans, and powerpoints are downloadable from the CS Inside Website. Great for busy teachers!
The second workshop was aiming to demonstrate what algorithms were using the idea of trying to write down instructions for drawing a mystery shape and getting another person to follow them. Unfortunately I was unable to complete this workshop as I had to leave for the long drive home, but again this idea showed great promise and interest.
In short, I’d thoroughly encourage all Computing Teachers to try and get to some of these sessions. The next ones are on the 11th December, 16th January and 21st February at 4:30pm Appleton Tower. Raymond Simpson, Lead Teacher at Edinburgh City Council is co-ordinating them, so you should contact him to ‘book’ your place (free!) firstname.lastname@example.org
I really should finish by saying a big Thankyou to Morna Findlay at the School of Informatics for hosting the event at Edinburgh. The CS Inside team are also hosting similar events through in Glasgow, and are happy to come into schools/authorities to hold sessions on demand. The wine was lovely too – you don’t get that at an East Lothian CPD session!!!