Physical Computing

Physical computing is for me, one of the most exciting parts of the whole primary curriculum. It brings together Science, Maths, DT, Computing and Art in an exciting project based learning experience that children will remember forever.

Year 5 Crumble Creations

So what is Physical Computing? How and when do I teach it and where do I start?

First of all, Physical Computing (which is a type of engineering) is mentioned in the Computing Curriculum for KS2, the DT curriculum but also can achieve objectives from the Science curriculum:

Pupils should be taught to:

design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts

UK National Curriculum – Computing in Key Stage 2 – 2013

Pupils should be taught to:

understand and use electrical systems in their products [for example, series circuits incorporating switches, bulbs, buzzers and motors]

apply their understanding of computing to program, monitor and control their products

UK National Curriculum – Design Technology in Key Stage 2 – 2013

Pupils should be taught to:

construct a simple electrical circuit, identifying and naming its basic parts, including cells, wires, bulbs, switches and buzzers

UK National Curriculum – Science in Key Stage 2 – 2013
KittyBuild Crumble Primary Computing Run Don't Walk
Robo Kitty!

For an idea of where to start, please do have a look at this blog post, which outlines the difference between physical and simulated systems and gives you some pointers on how to deliver those first few lessons:

Primary Physical Computing: Where do I start?

The next step would be to get yourself on some training. The NCCE (TeachComputing.org) offer a wealth of training opportunities, including this course on KS2 Physical Computing:

Teach Computing: Introduction to Physical Computing – KS2 Crumble

KS2 teachers on the Teach Computing Physical Computing Course

There are similar courses for the Micro:bit, however these are aimed more at KS3.

The NCCE is also running a loan scheme where you can hire (for free) a class set of Crumbles for a half term. Please click here for more information: NCCE Physical Computing Kit Loan Scheme

There are also many free project ideas and resources online, for example my Origami Crumble Cart and also Redfern’s website project page.

Origami Crumble Cart

For now, I will leave you with some inspiration from my pupils and their own Crumble creations!

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