Allen Tsui shares his primary school’s journey of creating engagement and success in computing.

Introducing young children to physical computing

Physical computing products like the Vex Go, Robotical’s ‘Marty’ (a far advanced replacement for the Bee-Bot), and the Kano PC are great ways of introducing children as young as six years old to physical computing as they assemble their very own computer as well as introducing them to pseudo-coding techniques. Vex Go and Robotical are brilliant tools for teaching and learning block coding, given their similarity to Scratch – as well as their appeal to Early Years where they can be used to introduce Reception classes to predict a sequence of moves and inspire them to practice ‘writing’ their own.

‘Robot Wars’ project

Since becoming the subject lead for Computing in Summer 2020, my reboot of the curriculum has been supported by senior colleagues who have invested in a Everybody will be able to practice their coding skills using the VexGo virtual app before their code is uploaded to the physical device. To achieve this, it has been necessary to consider running Computing lessons under a collapsed timetable arrangement, so that every class has two- or three-hours’ continuous time on twice or three-weekly rotations. This modified timetable arrangement should still allow the Upper Key Stage 2 learners to explore the use of numbers and strings as variables, as well as loops and Boolean conditions within a twelve-week term. Similarly, the urgency to pledge commitment to caring for the environment means working with the British Science Association’s CREST Awards programme to build pollution-monitoring devices and self-watering plant systems. Links have also been made to the inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA) Scheme.

Pupils assembling the 'Vex Go Buggy'.

Pupils assembling the 'Vex Go Buggy'.

Author

  • Allen Tsui

    Allen is the subject lead for computer science at Willow Brook Primary School Academy in East London. He teaches Year 4 to Year 6 and Reception classes across two primaries within the trust, as well Year 1 classes at his ‘base school.’ He has also worked at one of the trust's secondary schools teaching A-Level computer science.
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