Category Archives: Computer Science

Recruiting for CyberFirst Girls 2019

It’s that time of year again, when NCSC set Year 8 their greatest challenge. I was determined to increase engagement in the competition yet again and throw open the doors to the Computer Science department all week for as much sleuthing and code breaking as we could fit in between lessons.

An intermediate success! 14 teams signed up – way more than last year (23 girls in 6 teams.) I am excited to see what happens this year. I’ve taken over the huge screen in the new iCreate space with help from IT support, so my animated hacking screens (just Google Slides in disguise) will keep the scores updated as soon as I can update them.

The BGS Christmas Hunt!

I like a good puzzle and to stretch the lateral thinking of my students a little (not a lot, it is almost Christmas…) They’re itching to fidget and love something a bit different, so December brought the first BGS Christmas Hunt. Around the school I dotted QR codes with clues as to where the next code was, and also some challenges to complete along the way.

Organised into teams with punny Christmas names, they shot off to try and be first to complete all the challenges, hunting in all unusual parts of school.

Thoughts for next time, don’t start all the groups in the same place as they follow or stalk each other.

Unplugged Computer Science

It’s back to school! This year I am teaching Computer Science to all of Year 7 in their form groups at Bedford Girls’ School. Year 7 is the first year of our senior school, so the girls are a mix of students who have moved up from the Junior School and some new faces from other schools. The first week (or part week) ends with Year 7 receiving their iPad, with a special morning off timetable to update their e-safety knowledge and how to care for the iPad. Up until Year 7 the students are not permitted to take the device home, and this can take a little bit of getting used to – namely remembering to charge it up!

This provided me with a couple of lessons with some unplugged computing to introduce the girls to Computer Science. Our first topic What’s Inside a Computer requires the iPad to access the course and resources, and the following week the girls sit an online test during my lesson instead.

To help everyone get to know some names on the first day, we puzzled out a game of ‘picnic’ as a group, figuring out why Anna could bring an apple to the picnic but Tessa couldn’t. The hint dropping became more and more hilarious as the game went on. Great for pattern recognition!

We sat back to back and described aliens to each other to decide on the importance and sequence of how to break down a trickier problem. Some good strategies!

We tried out transmitting a picture using binary across the room without speaking… proved very tricky for some!

There was a favourite game of selective seats (which is in the plan for the conditionals lesson in the summer) and pictionary (which is used to introduce abstraction), to fill the rest of the hour. I’d certainly learned more names than the average lesson and they left the lesson buzzing. Great start to the year!