Thursday, 7 February 2019

Coding Buddies

Taken from: 

Students and staff from the University of Northampton are buddying up with secondary school pupils at a series of computer coding clubs across the town.
Code clubs for Year 7 and 8s have been set up at three Northampton schools, with each having University staff and student coding buddies present, to help the pupils to raise their coding skills.
While the school pupils get to bolster their computing knowledge, the students get to develop their leadership and communication skills which help to give their CVs a boost.
The clubs also form part of a wider University programme which aims to raise the attainment of pupils at schools in communities with lower-than-expected progression rates into university
Schools hosting the code clubs, which are supported by the University, include Thomas Becket Catholic School, Boothville, Weston Favell Academy and Northampton International Academy (NIA).
NIA pupil, Aisha Hussain, has been attending the code club, and said: “We did a little bit of coding at primary school and I really enjoyed it, but I would have liked to have done more.
“So when I heard about the coding club I wanted to join and I am really enjoying it. The code buddies are really nice, and very helpful.”
Code buddy Andreas Thiersa, who is a final year International Accounting student, feels the experience has a number of positive benefits.
He said: “Working with the school pupils has been really inspiring for me. We’ve been able to learn from each other. They are building up their skills in logical thinking, while I have been impressed with their creativity and different way at looking at things. It’s helped to open my mind to the fact everybody is worth listening to, as everybody has a different perspective.”
Fellow code buddy, Ella Smith-Gibbs, who works in the University’s Student Records department, said: “Being a code buddy has been really beneficial, not only for my personal development, but also my professional development as it equips me with new skills and is helping to broaden my horizons, career-wise.
“The pupils have been brilliant and I’ve really enjoyed supporting them and giving them some guidance.”
Tim Marston, headteacher at Northampton International Academy, said: “By teaming up once again with the University of Northampton, it’s fantastic that we are able to offer our young people a chance to develop their IT and coding skills.
“By working with the university students, it also enables our pupils to learn more about higher education and can raise aspirations amongst those who might not otherwise have considered going to university.”
Dr Scott Turner, Associate Professor and Principal Lecturer in Computing at the University, said: “This is a great opportunity for the University, and helps to demonstrate to our students and school pupils that computing is enjoyable, relevant and something they can do.”
Linda Davis-Sinclair, Schools Engagement Lead at the University, added: “The programme is part of a number of initiatives that aim to measure the impact on pupils’ learning and encourage them to explore the wide variety of careers and study opportunities open to them in the future. Our own students benefit too as it develops skills that they would not normally get in the classroom, and provides them with opportunities to be good role models in the schools.”

All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruon

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Evolutionary Algorithm Posters #1 : 3rd Year Computing Students

As part of their studies in Artificial Intelligence, some of the students have produced posters on aspects of Evolutionary Algorithms. The task was to produce a poster explain an aspect or an application of Evolutionary Algorithms to a 16-year-old Computing Student. 

All the posters are shown with the permission of the students.

Poster 1: Asad Sayed; Thivya Thevakumar and Samuel Dauda

Poster 2: Amna Hira Mahmood, Tony Carelley, Josh Challand

I don't pretend this is a new idea but I will be using it again.

All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruon

Monday, 4 February 2019

Young Coders Competition 2019

Young Coders Competition 2019

The Young Coders Competition is a new competition for primary schools aimed at helping teachers to become more confident with teaching coding skills . Any teacher can run the competition whether they are familiar with coding or completely new to it. All the session planning is done for you so you can learn alongside your pupils. The resources include 12 weeks of lesson planning for absolute beginners (children and teachers!) or a shorter 6 week version for those who already have a little experience with using Scratch. The resources can be used for computing lessons or to run an after-school club.

It is open for children in years 4, 5 and 6 working in teams of 3 - 6 children. The aim is to create a short computer game using Scratch featuring super heroes who use their super powers for good.

As well as planning, the pack also includes:

·         Introductory assembly slides and script to launch the competition/club in your school
·         A3 poster to remind children about the competition
·         Educators FAQs with all key information you need close at hand
·         Student ‘cheat sheet’ with all the key rules on, so you don’t have to keep reminding them!

To register for the competition and access all the resources click on this link

The Young Coders competition is a collaboration between the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, University of Northampton and the STEM Ambassador Hub East Midlands.
By taking part in this competition, the children get a chance at becoming the Young Coders Crew 2019. Each child in the winning 3 teams will receive personalised certificates and all children will receive certificates of participation.
Competition Rules

·         You must be in years 4, 5 or 6 to enter.

·         You must have a team of 3 to 6 children to enter.

·         You must create a game in Scratch relating to the theme: Superheroes who use their powers for good.

·         Any violence, even for the greater good, will mean automatic disqualification.

·         After you have finished making your game, you must create a 2 minute video explaining what you did, how it works and how your game meets our marking criteria.

·         Videos must be submitted by Friday 23rd May

·         The judging criteria is as follows:

Functionality and innovation (50%)
Marketing (25%)
Community responsibility (25%)
Does the game work as intended?
Is the game easy to use?
Is the game imaginative?
Does the game include original and well written code?
Aesthetics of the game – Does the game display correctly and look nice?
Creativity and design of your game’s name
Presentation of your game on the video
Is your game accessible for its target audience? I.e., is it suitable for the age range you built it for?
How does your game address the theme of Superheroes doing good?

 All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruon

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Talking Problem Solving

Two members of the Computing staff, Drs Scott Turner and Gary Hill were honoured to be asked to lead a discussion on Teaching Problem-solving in Higher Education. This builds on the work developed over the last twelve years (see Problem Solving Research Outputs and Activities)

The discussion on 23rd January 2019 took place within the weekly Twitterchat #LTHEchat.  The aim of the chat was to consider how problem-solving skills are developed in various subjects and allowing participants to sharing ideas and experiences from a wider range of subjects; also allowing the exploration of similarities and differences.

It was a fantastic discussion providing me (and hope others) with some new insights into how this area is taught and developed in other areas, as well as seeing the different perspectives.

To see the discussion go to

Using the fantastic #TAGS tool developed by the Martin Hawksey (see below) you can possibly see there was a lot discussion (lines shows people mentioned or replying to a particular person).

An interactive version of this, that lets you look at the hashtags, what people were saying can be found at this link

All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruon

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Computing for Good: #STEAMSpace

Taken from:

Photo credit: Chris Fidler

The University of Northampton has joined forces with Northampton International Academy in a move that will reap dividends for students, pupils and the community.
The organisations have signed a partnership agreement that will see them collaborate on a number of projects.
The institutions are converting two spare rooms at the school’s newly-opened Barrack Road site into a STEAMSpace – a place devoted to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) activities.
The space will be used by staff, University students, Academy pupils and those from other schools, plus members of the community.
Opening in the spring, the STEAMSpace will be kitted out with equipment from the school and University, including laptops, a 3D printer, virtual reality hardware, robots and Lego.
The space will provide a base for University staff and students to conduct workshops and masterclasses designed to help Academy and other school pupils in the town raise their attainment and aspirations in the field of STEAM subjects. Community groups will also be invited to use the rooms.
“When people think of our University, they probably only think about the Higher Education we provide to students,” said Linda Davis-Sinclair, Schools Engagement Lead at the University. “But we also play a major role within our county’s schools throughout the year, engaging with thousands of pupils via a packed series of activities and events designed to inspire the next generation of STEAM superstars.
“The new STEAMSpace at Northampton International Academy provides us with an amazing specialist space to enhance the delivery of our schools engagement work even further, and we’re incredibly excited about the partnership and its possibilities.”
Northampton International Academy headteacher, Tim Marston, said: “We’re really excited to be working with the University of Northampton on this incredible project, which will enable our pupils to develop their skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths with support and tuition from the University.
“In return, we’re delighted to offer the University a home here at Northampton International Academy for the STEAMSpace and I look forward to the two organisations sharing not just facilities, but also a passion for learning.”
Future partnership projects in the pipeline include link ups with staff and students from the University’s Fine Art and Media courses, while the University is also hosting a 10-week Code Club programme at the school, providing computer programming coaching for pupils.
The University’s Schools Engagement Team also organised a hugely successful debating club at the Academy for its pupils and a number of other secondary schools in the county, while the University and Academy are collaborating on a European research project which promotes digital learning.
John Sinclair, the University’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, is pictured signing the partnership agreement with NIA headteacher, Tim Marston – while Red the robot looks on.

All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruon

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Problem Solving Research Outputs and Activities




  • Hill, G. (2016) Review of a problems-first approach to first year undergraduate programming. In: Wu, B. and Kassel, S. (eds.) Software Engineering Education Going Agile: 11th China-Europe International Symposium on Software Engineering Education (CEISEE 2015).Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. 9783319291659. pp. 73-80.
  • Turner, S. J. (2016) Enhancing computing student employability skills through partnership working in STEM outreach. In: Wu, B. and Kassel, S. (eds.) Software Engineering Education Going Agile: 11th China-Europe International Symposium on Software Engineering Education (CEISEE 2015). Cham: Springer International Publishing. 9783319291659. pp. 67-71.
  • Turner, S. J. (2016) Python junkbot. Poster presented to: Python Conference (PyCon) UK 2016, Cardiff, 15-19 September 2016.
  • Turner, S. J. and Childs, K. (2016) Artists. In: Caldwell, H. and Smith, N. (eds.) Teaching Computing Unplugged in Primary Schools: Exploring Primary Computing Through Practical Activities Away from the Computer. London: Learning Matters. pp. 51-72.






  • Hill, G.Svennevik, E. and Turner, S. J. (2011) Green computer science courses. No more labs full of computers, we’re going mobile!Paper presented to: 7th China-Europe International Symposium on Software Industry Oriented Education (CEISIE 2011): Green Computing in Higher Education, University of Northampton, 23-24 May 2011. (Unpublished)
  • Hill, G. and Turner, S. J. (2011) Problems first. In: Hussey, M.Wu, B. and Xiaofei, X. (eds.) Software Industry-Oriented Education Practices and Curriculum Development: Experiences and Lessons. Hershey, Pa.: IGI Global. pp. 110-126.
  • Kariyawasam, K. and Turner, S. J. (2011) Is it visual? Problem solving evaluation. Poster presented to: Learning Global - Fourth Learning & Teaching Conference, University of Northampton, 11 May 2011. (Unpublished)



All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruon

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Games Art : Forgotten Eden

Games Lecturer, Lewis Sanderson's work has been selected as a Staff Pick by Sketchfab Sketchfab is a widely used platform for publishing 3D models for VR and interactive 3D applications.

All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruon

Coding Buddies

Taken from:  Students and staff ...