Thursday 27 November 2014

How can KS3 use the logic behind coding without coding?

There are many useful coding tools which are doing wonders in classrooms. The question is though, what’s the best way for KS3 to learn the ‘computational thinking’ side of coding; part of the new computing curriculum?

It could be argued it’s to introduce students by using ‘real-life’ topics which they can relate to and get excited by. Small groups of students can discuss and debate certain situations, exploring what they may or may not do. The important thing to note is that these topics don’t even need to be directly coding-related.

Take, for example, each group being asked to ‘help’ a team of game developers decide whether they should make their new athletics game browser-based or for a console. They’re given short snippets of information on the dilemma such as how certain languages don’t allow for amazing 3D graphics, whereas others may make multiplayer easier.

Much of the decision depends on what features they see as most important, but also facts on actual programming languages. Students become engaged because they’ll be discussing their own personal opinions, imagining themselves ‘in’ the position of the gamer but also the developer too. While doing this, they’re being introduced to the kind of real-life decisions coders make every day.

This mystery in particular introduces programming languages at a higher level than specific details of languages, but gets across the point that in many cases, as a coder, compromises must be made.

There are two other computing mysteries for KS3 students to solve, and all come with three levels of difficulty. As a summary, one is a ‘whodunit’ which introduces students to Boolean Logic and the other asks groups to think of a solution to sorting out lots of new books.

If you’d like to try these tasks out at your school (plus have access to a Mystery Creator), we have a special Christmas offer.

Buy Digital Mysteries before Christmas and we’ll give you 50% off our usual price (12 month subscription). You and your students can get started shortly after you order, yet your official 12 months won’t begin until the New Year.

For £200, have your whole class using these tasks, as well as access to over 30 other KS3/4 mysteries in various subjects. To find out more, click here.