Sunday, 27 November 2016

Unplugged Artist's Chapter

A recently released book Teaching Computing Unplugged in Primary Schools  edited by Helen Caldwell (University of Northampton) and Neil Smith (Open University) has a number of interesting chapters by authors who are passionate about how computing is taught in schools. The central theme is unplugged activities, without using computers, but still teach the fundamental of computational thinking.

Ok, confession time. I co-wrote, along with Katharine Childs (Code Club), Chapter 3 Artists so I am biased here, but I believe in the central theme of Unplugged Computing. Computing, and Computational Thinking in general,  is not just about programming and using a computer (though using computers and  programming are vitally important to Computing) but it is also about many other things including problem-solving, being creative and working collaboratively.

Chapter 3 is about linking these computational thinking ideas to produce visual art, by applying computing principles including  repetition, following and refining algorithms, and abstraction. The chapter also looks, how these links have already being made, with examples such Sol Le Witt where not all the work that was produced by the artist himself, but some by others following his written instructions - in other words an algorithm. An example activity is shown below (named after my son who was the first to play it).

Thomas’ Tangles
Exploring abstract patterns using randomness within an algorithm.

Using crayons, pencils or pens, we are going to follow an algorithm to create a random drawing. This could be done in pairs and you will need squared paper.
Person A: Rolls the dice and reads out the instructions.
Person B: Is the ‘robot' carrying out the instructions.

IMG_0226.JPG

When the starting or central square is blocked and a new central square is needed the roles of A and B swap (so A is the ‘robot’ and B rolls the dice and reads out the instruction). The roles keep swapping.

Algorithm

Start from a random square – call it the centre square
Repeat until end of game
If die roll = 1
Roll die for number of moves
Check for blocks
If not blocked then
move die roll number of steps up the page
If die roll = 2
Roll die for number of moves
Check for blocks
If not blocked then
move die roll number of steps down the page
If die roll = 3
Roll die for number of moves
Check for blocks
If not blocked then
move die roll number of steps to the left
If die roll = 4
Roll die for number of moves
Check for blocks
If not blocked then
move die roll number of steps to the right
If die roll = 5
Roll die
If die = 1 change colour to Red
If die = 2 change colour to Blue
If die = 3 change colour to Black
If die = 4 change colour to Red
If die = 5 change colour to Orange
If die = 6 change colour to Yellow
If die roll = 6
Return to current centre square

Check for blocks:
If pathway blocked do not move then
reroll die
If number of spaces in the direction > die roll then
move until blocked
If all pathways blocked then
choose a new centre square



The other chapters make links with areas such as Robots, Musicians, Explorers, Magicians, Gamers, Cooks and Scientists.


References

Barr, D., Harrion, J., and Conery, L. (2011) Computational Thinking: A Digital Age Skill for Everyone Leading and Learning with Technology, ISTE, March/April 2011 [accessed via http://www.csta.acm.org/Curriculum/sub/CurrFiles/LLCTArticle.pdf on 26/12/2015]
Barr, V. and Stephenson, C. (2011) Bringing Computational Thinking to K-12, ACM Inroads, Vol 2. No 1, pp 48 - 54 [accessed via http://csta.acm.org/Curriculum/sub/CurrFiles/BarrStephensonInroadsArticle.pdf on 26/12/2015]
https://doi.org/10.1145/1929887.1929905
Computing at School (2013) Computing in the National Curriculum: A guide for primary teachers [accessed via http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/data/uploads/CASPrimaryComputing.pdf on 13/3/2016]
Denning, Peter J. (2009) Beyond Computational Thinking, Communications of the ACM Vol 52, Issue 6, pp 28 - 30 [accessed via http://sgd.cs.colorado.edu/wiki/images/7/71/Denning.pdf on 26/12/2015]
DfE: Department for Education (2013) National Curriculum in England: computing programmes of study
Freedman, J. (2015) Cycloid Drawing Machine [online] URL: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1765367532/cycloid-drawing-machine accessed on 3/3/2016.
Google. 2016 Project Jacquard [online] URL: https://www.google.com/atap/project-jacquard/ accesed on:1/3/2016.
Knuth, D. 1968. Preface, The Art of Programming vol 1., Boston: Addison-Wesley.
Knuth, D. 1996. Foreword. In: Petkovsek, M., Wilf, H., Zeilberger, D. A=B.. Natick: A K Peters/CRC Press, vii.
Koetsier, T., 2001. On the prehistory of programmable machines: Musical automata, looms, calculators. Mechanism and Machine Theory, 36(5), 589-603.
https://doi.org/10.1016/S0094-114X(01)00005-2
Menegus, B (2016) CDMS: Built with Processing [online] URL: http://wheelof.com/sketch/ accessed on 4/3/2016
MoMA. 2012. MoMA| Video Games [online] URL: http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2012/11/29/video-games-14-in-the-collection-for-starters/ accessed on: 1/3/2016.
Papert, S (1993) The children's machine: Rethinking schools in the age of the computer. New York: Basic books
Pearson M (2011) Generative Art: A practical guide using Processing, New York: Manning, 3-12
Selby, C. and Woollard, J. (2013) Computational thinking: the developing definition University of Southampton [accessed via http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/356481/7/Selby_Woollard_bg_soton_eprints.pdf on 26/12/2015]
The Art Story (2016) Sol LeWitt [online] http://www.theartstory.org/artist-lewitt-sol.htm accessed on: 6/3/2016
Wing, J. (2006) Computational Thinking Communications of the ACM Vol 49 pp 33 - 35 [accessed via https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~15110-s13/Wing06-ct.pdf on 26/12/2015]
https://doi.org/10.1145/1118178.1118215
Wing, J. (2011) Computational Thinking - What and Why The Link - News from the School of Computer Science, Issue 6.0, Spring 2011 [accessed via http://www.cs.cmu.edu/sites/default/files/11-399_The_Link_Newsletter-3.pdf on 26/12/2015]
Liukas L (2015) Activity 7 The Robots Hello Ruby - Adventures in Coding, New York: Feiwel and Friends, 94-97.
Schofield, S (2016) Generative Artworks [online] URL: http://www.simonschofield.net
Turner S (2016) 3 'Art' Scratch Projects [online] URL: http://compuationalthinking.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/3-of-my-scratch-projects-for-week.html accessed on: 12/3/2016.







All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruonAll opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruonAll views are the authors, and may not reflect the views of any organisation the author is connected with in any way.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Enhancing Computing Student Employability Skills Through Partnership Working in STEM Outreach

Enhancing Computing Student Employability Skills Through Partnership Working in STEM Outreach - Springer:


Scott Turner
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-29166-6_10


Published in Software Engineering Education Going Agile Part of the series Progress in IS pp 67-71

Abstract

Student volunteering is growing in the UK and elsewhere, and there is an ongoing debate about whether it is really “self-evidently a ‘good thing’” or there is a greater need for reflection to determine whether this statement is true (Holdsworth and Quinn, Studies in Higher Education35(1), 113–127, 2010). This paper presents a personal reflection of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) volunteering as a potential route to increasing Computing student’s employability.




References


  • 1.
    STEMNet (2015) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network [online] Available at: http:// www. stemnet. org. uk/  Accessed on: 24thJanuary 2015


  • 2.
    Sinclair J, Allen A, Davis L, Goodchild T, Messenger J, Turner S (2014) "Enhancing student employability skills through partnership working in STEM outreach; the University of Northampton approach " HEA STEM Annual Teaching and Learning Conference 2013: Enhancing the STEM Student Journey, University of Edinburgh, 30th April-1st May 2014


  • 3.
    Holdsworth, C., and Quinn, J. (2010). Student volunteering in English higher education. Studies in Higher Education35(1), 113–127.CrossRef



  • 4.
    Brewis, G., Russell, J., and Holdsworth, C. (2010). Bursting the bubble: Students, volunteering and the community. Research Summary.



  • 5.
    Junkbots (2015) Junkbots [online] Available at: http:// junkbots. blogspot. co. uk/  Accessed on: 24th January 2015.

  • All views are the authors, and may not reflect the views of any organisation the author is connected with in any way.

    Friday, 9 September 2016

    Nuffield Research Placement at University of Northampton







    All views are the authors, and may not reflect the views of any organisation the author is connected with in any way.

    Thursday, 1 September 2016

    9000+ Downloads of OERs

    A selection of the open educational resources that have been released from the School of Science and Technology at the University of Northampton. Based on 1/9/2016 figures.



    viewsdownloads 
    C Programming
    1247
    5887
    Summary of Evolutionary Algorithms
    884
    337
    Problem-Solving
    691
    930
    Pollution And Pollutants
    752
    1523
    Properties of Ultrasonic Waves
    885
    844
    Sustainability: Environmental Business Imperatives
    443
    1



    Total
    4902
    9552



    Pollution And Pollutants


    Authors: Paul Cox and Nigel Freestone

    Details


    Pollution is the undesirable introduction of pollutants (contaminants) into the natural environment (land, air and water) and can have an adverse affect on human health. This resource provides an introduction to pollution and pollutants. The classification and distribution of pollutants is also considered. A number of self-assessment questions are provided to allow you to check your new knowledge. The material comes in Word format and its HTML equivalent. The pollutants.htm file includes two images (poll.gif and ld50.gif) and an answers page (SAQ_Answers.htm) related to it that need to be put in the same folder as the pollutants.htm file.

    Keywords: UKOER, Environmental Science, Waste Management, Pollution, Pollutants, Environment, Air Pollution, Water Pollution, Pollution Pathways, Toxicity 

    88x31

    The resource found on Jorum at: http://find.jorum.ac.uk/resources/18529 



    Properties of Ultrasonic Waves


    Author:  


    Details
    This material gives the description of the physical processes involved in the propagation of ultrasonic pressure waves as they pass through a material. It includes a mathematical derivation of the amplitude of the transmitted and reflected pressure waves, and an explanation is given for the differences between the near and far zones. This material has been used in the Advanced Inspection Methods and Techniques module as part of the BSc programme in Non-Destructive Testing at the University of Northampton.
    Published:  School of Science and Technology, University of Northampton
    Keywords: UKOER, Ultrasonic waves, Inspection and testing, Non-destructive testing 







    Summary of Evolutionary Algorithms
    Click here for the resource: http://find.jorum.ac.uk/resources/19204
    Author:  
    These slides are intended for undergraduate computing students, providing an overview of Genetic Algorithms, a concept of in artificial intelligence. As well providing an overview the material also include links to applications via web resources. The slides are taken from an undergraduate artificial intelligence module on the BSc Computing Programme at the University of Northampton. Possible uses of these including support material for second year, third year or masters level course on artificial intelligence.

    Click here for the resource: http://find.jorum.ac.uk/resources/19204


    C Programming


    Click here for the resource: http://find.jorum.ac.uk/resources/19192
    Author: 
    In this material you will be introduced to some of the principles of programming, and specifically learn to write fairly simple programs using a programming language called C. An idea central to this material is that programming is about problem solving; you write a program to solve a particular problem. It is hoped that at the end of the material you should see that there is nothing magical or mysterious about programming. One of the features some people like about programming is you are making the computer do what you want. During the programming exercises, do not worry about making mistakes. In this material you will be expected to try out programs and eventually write your own. The target audience is anyone who wants to learn a programming language or is looking for some assessment questions around programming. The material was originally aimed at second year engineering students at the University of Northampton.
    Click here for the resource: http://find.jorum.ac.uk/resources/19192





    Problem-Solving


    Author: Dr Scott Turner





    These mini lectures are intended for undergraduate computing students, for providing simple steps in problem solving before the students learn a programming language. Problem-Solving and Programming is a common first year undergraduate module on the BSc Computing Programme at the University of Northampton. This material was taken from the problem solving part of the module and provides an introduction to five topics in problem-solving.

    The resource can be found at: http://find.jorum.ac.uk/resources/19001



    Sustainability: Environmental Business Imperatives



    Author: 
    Created: 7 July 2014, by School of Science & Technology and Northampton Business School, The University of Northampton
    This video outlines the drivers for resource efficiency for business including raw materials scarcity and economic imperatives. The savings that can be made by more efficient use of raw materials, energy and waste are highlighted. Case study examples are given to show how different sectors have achieved resource efficiency and moved towards a circular model of resource use.





    All views are the authors, and may not reflect the views of any organisation the author is connected with in any way.

    Tuesday, 30 August 2016

    Robot Arms in Schools Project



    Santander UK recently provided the funding for an outreach project within the Department of Computing, University of Northampton - loaning robot arm kits, which are pretty much self-contained, out to schools to see what they can come up with and share with the wider community. 

    The project is provide a robot arm kit to support computing and STEAM activities for a year and the schools taking part write a blog post (or more than one) http://robotschools.blogspot.co.uk/, sharing what they have done. Ten kits have been made available.
     
    The chosen kit is the CBiS Education robot arm hub - select as it comes with the robot arm, cables, raspberry pi computer, etc as well as screen, keyboard and mouse (see the picture above). So it has everything needed to get going within a few minutes.  

    In the first five days of the robot arms kits going into the schools, over half the ten robot arm kits are now in schools - four Primary schools and two Secondary Schools. 

    Here are some of the tweets about what has happened already.

















    The project team are grateful to Santander UK for the funding; CBiS Education for their support and advice so far; last but not least the schools who have enthusiastically expressed an interest in taking part or who are taking part now. A blog for the project is now available at http://robotschools.blogspot.co.uk/.


    If you'd like to find out more about Computing at the University of Northampton go to: www.computing.northampton.ac.uk. All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated withAll views are the authors, and may not reflect the views of any organisation the author is connected with in any way.