During this CAS hub meeting, we focussed on the use of input and output to investigate how computers can control devices connected to them. This is an area that often gets taught at KS1 using robots, such as Beebots and Roamers, and can be more problematic at KS2 simply because it requires some equipment for children to be able to control!
Fortunately, we had some experience educators to help us look at some of the equipment available for control.
Nick Page, Primary Computing lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, works with trainee teachers on the computing curriculum. He has recently been investigating using a Crumble controller in the classroom and brought several projects along to demonstrate how they could be used and integrated with the Design and Technology curriculum. Particularly fun was the ability use conductive thread to sew connections between lights to make a circuit, a lovely way to combine sewing, electronics and programming to make a felt Christmas Tree with a sequence of flashing lights! A big advantage of Crumble is that it is cheap to buy and can use electronic components that you may already have in school such as crocodile clips.
Claire Robinson, from Holme Valley Primary school in North Lincolnshire, is a HLTA with a passion for computing. She has been using two very cute robots, Dot and Dash, at her school and demonstrated how they could be used in the classroom with the various attachments they have from Lego adapters, to an iPod holder and even a xylophone.
We also had a number of attendees bring along other control equipment to play with during an open workshop. There were Spheroes, Ozobot, more Crumble projects using traffic lights, a Lego Wedo toilet fan and iControl.
There were 46 people at the meeting and the overwhelming choice for a subject for the next hub meeting was for us to look at Computing in Early Years and KS1. We have already secured Apple Distinguished Educator Marc Faulderfor our meeting on 25 May 2016 and are looking out for someone to present at our Spring meeting on 4 February 2016. Get in touch if you could help or would like to recommend a speaker or workshop topic.