Courses: Embedded Intelligence in KS3 D&T

rta-ei-courseI’m running a couple of courses on Embedded Intelligence in mid-November, specifically:

  • London, Monday 14th November
  • Manchester, Thursday 17 November

Full details and booking information are on the RTA website, but in summary, the course is based around PICAXE hardware and Blockly for programming.

During the day we’ll explore how to bring embedded intelligence into your curriculum across a range of material areas and make sure you know the basics of PICAXE programming.

The course fee includes PICAXE hardware (and the software is free) so that you can continue to explore embedded intelligence afterwards. I will also be providing post-course support.

@ShrimpingIt: Training for Educators

ShrimpingIf you’re curious about programmable control via an Arduino-compatible system, then the @ShrimpingIt kit might be of interest to you; it’s a low-cost, build-it-yourself microcontroller system that works with the usual range of Arduino programming environments.

There is a two-day training course coming up on 8-9th July, in Morecambe; See the links for details and tickets.

And if you do go, let us know what you thought of the system!

Neri Oxman: Design at the intersection of technology and biology

Neri OxmanNeri Oxman is the head of the Mediated Matter group in MIT’s Media Lab. She’s a designer and architect by background and her group has developed of a whole string of interesting research projects that explore the relationships between humans, designed objects and the environment in surprising ways.

As she says in the video below:

We live in a very special time in history, a rare time, a time when the confluence of four fields is giving designers access to tools we’ve never had access to before. These fields are computational design, allowing us to design complex forms with simple code; additive manufacturing, letting us produce parts by adding material rather than carving it out; materials engineering, which lets us design the behavior of materials in high resolution; and synthetic biology, enabling us to design new biological functionality by editing DNA. And at the intersection of these four fields, my team and I create.

I said in my previous post that one of the things we should be doing in D&T from KS3 onwards is introducing children to the novel ideas that are at the forefront of design and technology activity – and teaching them how to interrogate these ideas critically.

Neri’s Mediated Matter group is a rich source of intriguing ideas you can draw on.

Computational Thinking for Educators

Computational Thinking for Educators is a free online course from Google running from July 15 – September 30, 2015. Further information is in this blog post.

As the video below emphasises, this is a course for teachers of all subjects not just computing teachers:

This seems to me to be a useful opportunity for D&T teachers to catch up with what computational thinking is and how it can be used across the curriculum – and to start to explore how it might inform practice in D&T.

D&T courses and network meetings

I’m running and involved in some courses and network meetings for  D&T and Computing  teachers later this term and next term. Full details are on the NW Digital D&T site:


How does biology explain the low numbers of women in Computer Science (Hint: it doesn’t)

Thanks to Fast Company I’ve just come across this excellent slide show by Terri Oda, a computer scientist at the University of New Mexico.

Terri OdaThe Fast company report includes a great interview with Oda. Asked why she created the slide show she says:

Women in computing tend to have to waste an awful lot of time answering questions related to being a woman in computing. Case in point: My male colleagues are doing science while I’m taking time to answer this email. So I wanted to make something short, funny, and easy to pass around so women could turn those stupid arguments on their heads. Judging from the emails I’ve gotten, it’s been pretty effective!

The case she makes in the slides, and the interview, could (should) be applied much more widely in discussions about women’s employment in technology and engineering…

Joint Computing at School and Digital D&T meeting | Presentation

I mentioned a joint Computing at School and Digital D&T meeting that took place last Monday (8th July) at MMU. It was an ‘interesting’ talk to devise, as I hoped that both D&T and Computing /ICT teachers would be in the audience and part of the brief was to describe to teachers from each subject something of the background to the other subject. So there was an inevitable risk that I would, at any time, only  be saying something new to half of the audience… I’ll let others be the judge of whether I pulled this off or not. [As it turned out the audience was mostly teachers from an ICT/Computing background with a small number of D&T folk present.]

D&T CAS talk 8-7-13I’ve made the PowerPoint of the talk available via my publications page, though I’m not sure how helpful it will be to those who weren’t at the actual event. If you do decide to grab it, please note what I say on that page about the Yanone Kaffeesatz font…

That was definitely a talking session, but we agreed to follow it up next term with a practical session looking at some microcontroller systems; probably PICAXE and Genie with a bit of Arduino and mbed… – and I’ll bring along a couple of Makey Makeys.

We’ll try and get a better mix of D&T and ICT/Computing teachers along to that one…