Our Computing main lesson!

The block based coding environment we used. This is an egg timer. When it times out it will emit an alarm.

I just completed our computing main lesson at the end of term 1. We had so much fun and my students were incredibly motivated to create an amazing array of pets, board games and other projects.

We used a block based javascript editor called MakeCode which alows us to visualise the logical structure of our code.

For those of you who don’t know what a main lesson is, it is usually a three week chunk of daily lessons on some aspect of human knowledge. The lessons are 100 minutes long. Each main lesson is chosen to align with Rudolf Steiner’s developmental stages of individuals. The longer format daily lessons offer an intense taster course in many areas and some main lessons in the upper school include; Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Atomic Physics, Parsifal, Early NZ Art, Sustainability and, importantly for me, Computing.

In the Computing Main Lesson, I chose to use Micro:Bits. A Micro:Bit is a very cheap, very small computer which you can load code onto. This gadget has lots of sensors such as a gyroscope, compass, thermometer and several buttons so you can make it do all kinds of useful things. It has a cheap display on it which can display symbols and text and it can be wired to external circuits to turn on a light, emit a screech through a speaker or power a small motor. There are many possibilities and I was impressed with the different ideas the students devised.

A microbit. Small, affordable, quite dumb but very flexible.

The Computing Main Lesson I taught was heavily based on coding and used the Microsoft MakeCode Intro to Computer Science teaching resource as a basis for the lessons. This set of lessons and exercises offers a great introduction to all the basics like variables, algorithms, variables, conditionals and iteration. It is also really hands on and practical, with coding going hand in hand with craft projects. We build a series of projects, coding in the MakeCode environment and then building physical enclosures to enhance the functionality of the code.

A random number generator

We ended up with a selection of contraptions, from house alarms and trip wires, soil moisture readers, friendly snakes, massively complicated board games…the list goes on.

A home security system with an ear splitting alarm.
A very complicated board game
A pet which buzzes when exposed to light (great for jokes)