Physical computing kits available for hire

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

The latest technology helping students to learn how to control objects by computers is being made available to schools via a new loan scheme.

Launched by the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), primary and secondary teachers can borrow the classroom kits to enable them to create projects controlled by computers.

The sets of physical computing kits are now available to borrow from the NCCE’s national network of 34 Computing Hubs, which are based at schools and colleges across England.

Physical computing means interacting with real-world objects, such as lights, buzzers and motors, by programming them with a computer. The Computing Hubs can now offer classroom trays of Crumble, micro:bits, Raspberry Pi Pico or Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ devices.

Each tray contains enough devices for a classroom, along with all the peripherals such as LEDs, motors, wheels, and cables needed to complete units from the NCCE’s Teach Computing Curriculum, which is designed for pupils aged five to 18.

NCCE Computing Hubs are led by schools and colleges with excellence in teaching computing and support schools and colleges to provide a high-quality computing education to all young people. They provide training courses with bursaries, teaching and learning resources, and school-to-school support.

Dan Elwick, a programme manager at the NCCE, said: “This project is such an exciting opportunity to inspire students of all ages to learn about computing in new and engaging ways by providing kit, content and training for free to schools across England that have not had the budget or expertise to teach physical computing before.”

Computing lead and primary school teacher Suzanne Kennard said: “We completed most of the sessions from the NCCE’s Teach Computing Curriculum while we had the kit. As my confidence increased, I could set the class challenges to programme colours and sequences. At one point I asked them to make a disco, which wasn’t in the lesson plan! They really benefited from the physical equipment.”

The NCCE has developed new face-to-face courses which support the physical computing kits and introduce the Crumble, micro:bits, and Raspberry Pi Pico. In addition, the NCCE also provides online courses for teachers to develop their physical computing skills.

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