I designed the Key Stage 2 (KS2) Computing Tool to aid teachers in delivering the objectives of the new primary school computing curriculum (beginning September 2014). This curriculum has a particular emphasis on teaching pupils coding and the key principles behind this.
Primarily: Sequence, Algorithms, Input/Output, Loops and Repetition, Conditional Statements and Event Handlers.
In the tool, coloured code commands are dragged from a menu into the Edit/Coding area and can then be rearranged and nested within each other.
Pupils are encouraged to ‘Edit’ Blocks of code, then enter ‘Run’ mode and see the effects of their work.
The core ‘Edit/Run’ engine is the same across a wide range of ‘Worlds’, these exist both in the format of structured lessons and more open ended tools, where the emphasis is on the pupils creativity and for them to save and share the games they have created with their fellow students.
Some of the worlds presented are:
Chip the Parrot and Digit the Monkey are Astronauts,you must code them so that they:
– move through space
– turn clockwise and anti clockwise
– collide with meteorites… and each other
– collect stars
– reach a destination, their space station
– draw coloured geometric space shapes (which can drift away to the stars!)
Make Chip and Digit conduct a conversation
– Type phrases for the conversation
– Characters animate whilst phrases appear
– Style the text using colour, font and align tags in a pseudo HTML manner
– Launch each conversation using a range of event handlers
Play tunes (eg ‘Three Blind Mice’) using a combination of input/output and event handlers
pupils design, develop and code their own quiz
a classic racing game
– Race around the track against Robocar
– Collect gems
– Avoid Obstacles, Boxes, Tyres
– Code a Lap Completion message
– Code Health/Lives game completion criteria
program a fully functioning musical keyboard
The primary model is that a number of lessons are presented, usually building towards the creation and completion of a game or project.
Each lesson introduces one key coding task, with the editor usually pre configured to the successful completion task of the previous lesson, in this way learning is gradual and cumulative, to aid familiarity pupils use the same key programming concepts in a wide range of scenarios.
In other ‘debug’ lessons, the editor has been pre-populated with code which does not quite fulfil the task, pupils are expected to either add commands, or rearrange the code to obtain the goal
Elements of the KS2 Computing Tool are similar to ‘Scratch’, it is expected that students would find it an introduction and gradual natural progression to this tool. The Core concept that differs is that within a given world, some of the world behaviour has already been programmed, for example in the ‘Racetrack’ World collision detection is pre-programmed, in essence pupils can have an engaging and entertaining experience without the necessity of being experts.
An Event driven coding architecture is at the heart of the tool…
for example code blocks can be configured so that they execute
‘On Red Button press’
‘On Green Button press’
‘On clicking Sprite’
‘On key Press’
‘After x Seconds’
‘Every x seconds’