Physical Computing - Three Controllers for KS2

controllers Codebug CodeBug is a cute, programmable device designed to introduce simple programming and electronic concepts to anyone, at any age. CodeBug can display graphics and text and has two push buttons and six crocodile clip rings for inputs and outputs. Being small and powered by a watch battery it makes wearable tech projects a real possibility for the KS2 classroom.

The Codebug is easy to program. It uses an online interface, which features colourful drag and drop blocks very similar to Scratch. And like Scratch there’s an in-browser emulator so that you can test your program before you download it to the CodeBug. It’s also programmable in Python. The Codebug website provides lots of ideas and tutorials for projects (though a few more that don’t involve using a Raspberry Pi would be great).

Raspberry Pi Myths

“The Raspberry Pi is cheap.”

The RRP for a Raspberry Pi model B is £36. And yes, at a tenth of the cost of an iPad it’s within the range of most families, teenagers with a Saturday job and indeed schools. However, your £36 doesn’t get you a fully functioning, ready to program Pi. You need a few other bits and pieces if you want to do more than merely admire the circuitry. Unlike the iPad or indeed a laptop, Pis do not come with a fully integrated power supply, or a screen, or a keyboard, or a mouse. Not even a case! Without these things your Pi is just a circuit board. And these things will cost more than the Pi its-self.

A Piece of Raspberry Pi?

As with all great new ideas (and the Raspberry Pi is a great idea) there are lots of misconceptions and half-truths. So before you buy a Pi, read this first!

If you threw away your PC based machines when you fell in love with the iPad (or similar device) the Pi might be a good way to get your students interested in what actually happens inside a computer. For older students doing Computer Studies, the Pi is great because they can experiment with a computer that is separate to the main school network. You’d never allow students to ‘mess’ with the OS on a curriculum machine.

What is a Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little computer which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, such as spreadsheets, word-processing and games.

It also plays high-definition video. The RPi can also be used to give students opportunities to create programmes that control devices.

Mr Gove believes it’s the “kind of initiative which will give children the opportunity to learn the fundamental of programming.”

With Google Giving providing Raspberry Pis for 15,000 school children and the Raspberry Pi Foundation reporting that it sold its millionth Pi in April, there are plenty of these devices in classrooms.

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