In Key Stage 3 students will explore basic coding and programming that will prepare them for the more robust learning that happens at GCSE and A level. In Year 8 the students all explore coding problems using PICAXE software to examine the role of the microcontroller in computing. They also investigate programming problems encountered by Mars Rovers using the Lego facilities. In Year 9 the best coders will opt for the programming pathway and the remainder of the year group will explore programming concepts through Lego and Scratch projects.
In Year 7 students are introduced to a number of new pieces of software and ways of working. Students start by looking at passwords and security and then move on to emails. For many students this is the first email they have had, so they learn all about formal and informal emails and pitfalls of getting this wrong. Students then start to program the computer using Go Control (Flowcharts), before moving onto Scratch to program games of their own. Students also spend time looking at the reliability of online information – you’d be surprised how many students will believe anything they read!
Students then work on spreadsheet skills to model business problems, these include; Profit, Revenue, Sales and Costs. The final unit of the year is very creative and gets the students to produce animated logos which represent them. Students leave the year feeling much more ICT confident and ready to tackle even more challenging problems in Year 8.
In Year 8 students have a number of projects that introduce them to coding. They use PICAXE to program a microcontroller that can be used to operate/control various domestic appliances. A Lego model is used to simulate the lighting/heating systems that one might have on their mobile device. Students also study the role of the Mars Rover projects in helping scientists to understand how information is gathered from other planets using computers. Lego models are engineered and students must program their ‘Rovers’ to complete a series of tasks that they would expect to have to perform in real life space exploration scenarios.
In Year 9 students work on engineering driverless vehicles using Lego. They explore all the key concepts involved in the future of automated travel and learn how to program the Mindstorm CPU to utilise peripheral devices such as ultrasonic sensors, buttons, gyroscopic sensors and light detectors. Looking at real life examples of driverless travel such as the Docklands Light Railway, students explore coding/programming principles that make use of loops, switches, variables and arrays to build faultless functionality into their vehicle. Having learned the skills necessary to create safe, reliable automated transport students engage in robot wars with very different results.
Lego Innovation Suite