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Teaching Physical Computing to 5-11 year olds

Teach your young learners how to create electronic circuits, then learn to control them using block-based programming languages.

Teaching Physical Computing to 5-11 year olds

Learn how to create physical computing projects using a Crumble or micro:bit

Physical computing is the process of designing, building, and programming systems that use physical components such as buttons, lights, and motors.

On this three-week course from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, you’ll be introduced to the world of physical computing and how it can encourage learners to use their imaginations to solve problems and develop new ideas.

You’ll learn how to support young children aged 5-11 years old as they work through physical computing projects, whilst also developing your own knowledge and skills.

Gain an understanding of inputs and outputs

On the course, you’ll build projects involving connecting both inputs and outputs to a Crumble microcontroller or a BBC micro:bit.

You will use inputs to pass data into the microcontroller, process that data with block-based programming languages, and use outputs to move a robot buggy or provide information to a user.

The course will help you complete several physical computing projects to develop your skills and help you understand the experiences your young learners may have. You’ll also reflect on how your projects use the programming principles of sequence, selection, and repetition.

Learn how to adapt your lessons for young learners, with Raspberry Pi

On the course, you’ll find advice from the experts at Raspberry Pi Foundation on how to make the concepts relevant to young learners.

The projects that you work on also model the use of “levels of abstraction”, a way of splitting up computing projects to help focus on individual aspects, and lower cognitive load.

At the end of the course, you’ll create your own physical computing project involving a buggy to help cement your knowledge and put what you have learned into practice.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds What is physical computing? How can you control LEDs and motors using buttons and sensors? How can you make a robot buggy using a Crumble controller? This free course will help you develop your physical computing skills and become more confident in teaching physical computing to children aged 5 to 11. You’ll learn about designing and programming systems that use components such as buttons, lights, and motors. You’ll build projects using a Crumble controller and a BBC

Skip to 0 minutes and 34 seconds micro:bit. And you’ll reflect on how your projects use the programming principles of sequence, selection, and repetition. This three week course also contains peer-led discussions, trainer interaction, and practical activities to control a robot buggy using a block-based programming language. So whether you’re a teacher with students of your own, or simply curious about Crumble, this course will help you to start teaching physical computing to 5 to 11-year-olds. Sign up now at rpf.io/primaryphysical.

What topics will you cover?

  • Using physical computing devices in primary school
  • Using a Crumble to light LEDs and turn motors
  • Using buttons and sensors as inputs to a Crumble
  • The programming concepts of sequence, repetition, selection, and using variables
  • Building a buggy with a Crumble
  • An introduction to Micro:bit

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Evaluate different commercially available physical computing tools
  • Apply your programming knowledge to control digital inputs and outputs
  • Develop physical computing projects using a Crumble microcontroller from task to completed build
  • Demonstrate how to use the micro:bit MakeCode editor and emulator
  • Design suitable physical computing projects for your learning context
  • Reflect on your learning and create ideas for your classroom practice

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for educators of all types, in schools or informal settings.

It will help you begin your physical computing journey and use physical computing to help to teach young children how to program.

Who will you learn with?

Primary computing specialist teacher, working with schools and universities to support computing curriculum development and online safety. Barefoot and NCCE content writer, CAS Master teacher and ADE.

Who developed the course?

Raspberry Pi Foundation

The Raspberry Pi Foundation works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world.

National Centre for Computing Education

National Centre for Computing Education courses

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