Stargazing And Coding


Stargazing

Last week, because of the eclipse, we talked a lot at school about space. During the course of these discussions we’ve mentioned a couple of free apps that are great for finding and identifying stars and planets in the night sky.

For Android: skymap_android and For iOS:  skymap_ios

Both well worth a look!

Coding

I have had various requests about coding in school, with children eager to start creating the new Angry Birds! The Year 5 & 6 classes will tell you, after a half term of games creation, that it’s not that easy but if you can still have a lot of fun and get a real sense of achievement if you approach it with the right mindset. Although advanced coding involves a lot of text, for most of the work at Primary level it is enough to use a tool called Blockly (or its equivalent) which reduces the code to blocks that are quicker and easier to put together. The focus of our work is on understanding how algorithms (instructions) and programs (instructions that computers can understand) are developed, rather than creating huge amounts of advanced code.

purplemashv2Already this year Year 2 have used Blocky-style software to code within the 2Code section of Purple Mash. Purple Mash is available to all pupils at home via the link on the Tabecat page. There is enough content in 2Code for pupils across the school right up to Year 6, although it’s best to start from the beginning and work through – it doesn’t hurt to repeat stages either!

Another good resource is The UK Hour of Code which is used across the school and is great fun for adults too. There you can develop some basic programming skills and move onto developing simple games. This is a free resource, and is endorsed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other big names.

scratchFurther up the school we have been using Scratch, a programming software which is either web based or downloadable software. Either is free. Where Hour of Code holds your hand through a series of tasks Scratch is somewhat more open ended, but there are a wealth of resources on the site to help you along.

It is important to remember that the most important aspect of learning to code is the process itself. Start simply and slowly work your way up, and it becomes far less daunting than it might be and stays a lot of fun.

If you have any questions about any of the above please get in touch,

Karl Handy – Computing Teacher & Subject Leader

 

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