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What Can Computer Programs Do?

Programs are clear and concise instructions that computers can interpret. Here we will consider the wide range of reasons why people create such programs.

Programs are clear and concise instructions that computers can interpret. Here we will consider the wide range of reasons why people create such programs.

Programs Enable Creation

Programming enables children to be creators rather than just consumers of technology. Instead of using technology, such as in writing a letter on a word-processing package or using a graphic design package to draw a picture, children can develop their own programs to solve new problems or develop new ideas. Examples of such projects can be seen on the Coolest Projects website.

Coolest Projects is a world-leading showcase for young innovators who create projects using technology. These events are open to children of all levels and focus on creativity, participation and having fun with technology. Children can enter projects in different categories, from games and mobile apps to advanced programming and 3D design.

Below are some examples of projects from the Coolest Projects website, which show a variety of ways in which children can use programming to make a positive change in the world around us.

Programs Can Solve Problems and Entertain

GCSE Computer Science Revision Game

This project is a game-based revision tool for GCSE computer science. The program is designed to solve a problem and to provide a form of entertainment. Identifying that revision can be boring, Amy worked to solve this problem by creating ‘The Escape Room of Doom’, a two-player game that makes revision of GCSE computer science concepts fun. It has an emphasis on problem-solving questions and includes an element of competition to engage the player. Players direct a character around the screen and complete challenges based on their GCSE syllabus. Once a player has completed the required number of challenges, they can make their way to the exit square where they are told they have won the game.

Programs Can Automate Systems

Burglar Buster

Burglar Buster is written in Python using a Raspberry Pi 4, camera, button, buzzer, sensor and LED lights and is linked to the user’s email system. This program automates the detection of burglars within a building. The user presses a button and enters a PIN to arm the alarm system before they leave the building. This activates the sensors, camera and buzzer. When a burglar tries to enter the property, an alarm sounds and an email is sent to the property owner containing details of the room being entered and a photo of the burglar.

Programs Can Personalise Your Experiences and Benefit Society

I See You

In order to reduce the number of car accidents that are caused by fatigue when drivers fall asleep behind the steering wheel, this program recognises when a driver’s eyes move off the road for more than two seconds. Using a web camera, an Arduino board and a laptop, the system alerts the driver with an alarm if they lose concentration at the wheel or fall asleep. This type of technology can be used to personalise cars of the future.

Programs Can Help You Express Yourself and Encourage Creativity

Ukelectric

This project showcases a home-made ukulele which is programmed using micro:bit MakeCode. By creating his own instrument, this child is able to express himself by making his own music. The pitch of the instrument can be altered by tilting the ukulele and is played either by using foil pads or by pressing the buttons on the micro:bit.

Programs Can Explain the World Around Us

Mark’s Coronavirus Game

For this project, Mark used Microsoft MakeCode Arcade to create a game based on teaching children about the need for masks and handwashing to protect themselves from coronavirus. It is an entertaining game which allows children to shoot the coronavirus with soap to kill off the disease and collect masks to increase the number of lives they have within the game.

Programs Can Help Children to Influence the World

There are so many exciting possibilities that children can develop once they have learned how to code. By encouraging their programming skills, you can equip them with the knowledge and enthusiasm to influence, change, and shape the world around them.

  1. Which programs do you think have had the most impact on our society in recent years?
  2. If you could create your own program — what would you make and why?
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Teaching Programming to 5- to 11-year-olds

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