Coding showcase from Wapping High

Last week we were invited along to HP’s offices in central London to meet the Code Club from Wapping High, who were showcasing the coding projects they have been creating over the course of this school term.

Back in January the students were set the challenge of creating a program in Scratch, HTML & CSS, Python or Java (for the more experienced) that could be shared with HP staff at the end of the term. Most of the club’s members are in year 7 & 8 and were complete newcomers to computer coding when they first started the club.

Kerstyn, a governor at Wapping High who runs the club, told us: “The students have been inspired by the projects provided by Code Club to help them learn the skills needed to create their games and quizzes. The club is run in an informal way that relies heavily on self-directed learning, it’s been great to see the progress the children have made.”

We were really impressed by the projects the club had worked on, including Python coding quizzes and Scratch animations.

Slack for iOS Upload

Wapping High’s club members showcasing one of their Scratch games

As well as being shown each of the projects, learning how they were designed and some of the challenges involved, we also heard from the students about why they decided to get involved with the club:

“I like coding because it’s unique and can be really exciting – when I grow up I want to be a programmer” – Tanseen, year 7 pupil

“I like playing video games, so I wanted to learn how to make them” – Seb, year 7 pupil

It’s fantastic to see older children using Code Club’s projects to help build their own exciting coding projects and develop their programming skills. Do you use our projects to teach older children, or even adults to code? Get in touch – we’d love to hear your story!

Fun with squishy circuits

I recently saw this excellent TED video about how to teach the basics of electricity to children using electricity conducting playdough and letting them be circuit designers, and decided to try it out. The dough can be hooked up to all kinds of fun stuff including LEDs, motors, arduinos, MaKey MaKeys etc.

Playdough can be made from things you already have in your kitchen, and it’s quite easy to make. You’ll need to make two types of playdough, one for the insulating dough and one for the conductive dough. The original recipes can be found here, but Americans use this funny thing called “cups”, and as true geek I only think in SI units*, so here’s the actual recipe that I followed:

The stuff you’ll need:

ingredients for playdough

First, I made the conductive dough, using:

  • 250 ml tap water
  • 200 g flour
  • 75 g salt
  • 135 ml lemon juice
  • 15 ml vegetable oil
  • food coloring (optional, I used green which is my favourite colour)

Add all the ingredients except for about 60-70g of the flour in a pot and stir well.

Heat over medium temperature, and continue stirring. It will start to boil and thicken. Keep stirring until it looks like this (big ball of dough):

cooking playdough

Put the dough on a baking tray with a bit of flour, and knead in the remaining flour, a bit at a time, until you reach that special playdough-y consistency. Check the quality by making some basic sculptures.

playdough dinosaur

And now for the insulating dough! You’ll need:

  • 200 g flour
  • 110 g sugar
  • 45 ml Vegetable Oil
  • 125 ml deionized water (I couldn’t find this so used still, filtered water from the shop)

Mix 140 grams of the flour with the sugar, vegetable oil and a tiny bit of the water (about 15 ml) in a bowl.

mixing insulating playdough

Then continue adding a little bit of the water at a time, until most of the water is absorbed in the dough. Then knead in the remaining flour/water until you reach a good playdough-y texture.

Now all you need to do is test the playdough for conductivity and non-conductivity. This can easily be done with some batteries and a LED. Make two lumps of conductive dough, hook it up to the batteries, and stick one leg of a LED into each lump. Notice if you bring the two lumps together so they are touching, it short-circuits and the LED no longer lights up. So stick some insulating dough between the two lumps and voila, squishy circuits 101 is complete. Have fun playing, and please let us know about any cool things you make!

basic squishy circuitsnail circuit

The dough lasts for several weeks if you keep it in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Remember to clean off the batteries/LEDs/metal bits with a damp cloth after using them with the dough, as salt is very good at corroding metal. I learnt that the hard way.

This batch of dough will be a part of the Code Club traveling code show, where we will be teaching the basics of computing, 1s and 0s, or “on” and “off”, you get the picture ;)

* Except for when it comes to temperature. I still think in Celsius rather than Kelvin. Oh well.