I agree with Simon Singh’s sentiments that Coding / Computing should be a separate and optional GCSE; I think using resources such as Scratch we can illustrate some concepts well and help students understand them; polygons and angles is a particularly good example of this and one I have written on before.
For some rather more advanced coding, there’s a rather nice Christmas tree generator here; select Auto Generate and sit back and admire the tree! Note that for any Scratch project you can ‘look inside’ and see the coding – a good way to learn more syntax.
Scratch, from MIT is object-oriented programming language which is very easy to get started with as there is now a new release of the platform availble entirely in a browser; no program downloads are required. The interface is intuitive and easy to use; extensive help is available including a very clear Getting Started Guideand a set of Scratch Cards with clear instructions which will help you learn new Scratch code. Note the Scratch For Educators section.
As you can see from the sprite’s path the above program continues as follows:
Now that’s not a very efficient program! Scratch is a great way to learn programming as well as doing some Maths! We could look at external angles of polygons for example and show how to repeat a set of instructions.
Scratch – drawing an octagon
We could add some sound, change the pen colour or shade, learn about variables and generally have some fun!
Click the image then ‘See Inside’ at the top of the screen.
Try experimenting with this program which uses variables for the number of lines to draw and the angle to turn through. You will need to sign up to Scratch which is very easy and free.
It strikes me that Scratch could be used for many topics, bearings included.
Stephen Quinn’s dissertation is an investigation into using Scratch to teach KS3 Mathematics and has many ideas as well as useful information on Scratch.