BCS Certified!

Delighted to record that I have been awarded the BCS Certificate in Secondary Computer Science Teaching – my thanks to LPA for providing the experience and guidance to achieve this key qualification.

As a separate, but related, enterprise I have also been made a STEM facilitator for the National Centre for Computing Excellence (NCCE). This means that I can help to deliver the new NCCE curriculum.


English Scratch / debating

We recorded our responses to pupil debating using an agreement / disagreement selector on the screen of each pupil: as persuasion shifts the balance, so the background colour indicates the viewpoint of each pupil around the room.



Farewell to my Cousin Joe. I just wanted to record here how much I miss him – we all do. Joe always supported any tech venture that I made. The way that he pondered a concept, and gave gentle pointers was such a precious gift.

Full tribute here:




Robot Update

After a little father and son time, the latest iteration of the Garage Robot is born! Upon being shared as the designated show-and-tell item, the spinning motor jams on, resulting in a scene of suitable chaos in the classroom with the robot determinedly making the most of its chance to take a turn at the front!


Crowd Beamer

Testing out a Crowd Beamer unit lent to us by the parent of a pupil. It transmits the video signal (though not the audio) via a dedicated WiFi channel which pupils can then view, zoom in to and capture on their own devices.



A James Bond themed evening in aid of our local primary school called for an outfit festooned with gadgetry!

Cue Q: A Rav Power block running to a chest held hub so that USB devices could attach centrally with wires tucked away!

The wrist-worn Microbit had different messages displayed including “Pay attention 007” {button B} and {when shaken}: “shaken, not stirred”  (of course!)

Having a loudspeaker was fun, although the request for “James Bond to reception, James Bond to reception” could perhaps have sounded less Tesco and more Mountain Lair.



The neo pixels of a Circuit Playground, or a heart aglow?!



The gadgetry was investigated once the mission was completed..







Cotswold Raspberry Jam

Thanks to Andy Andy Andrew Mark and Paul for a great welcome to their Raspberry Jam, hosted at the Waterworth building of the University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham campus.

We demonstrated the Cigar Box Computer in action and enjoyed trying out the Raspberry Pi creations that were on display.

Space Invaders, using three micro-switches


Paul has built the most amazing assortment of security equipment that can even face-track and monitor overflying aircraft.


Two children are now showing great interest in Scratch, which is a very happy outcome!





Cambridge Algorithms II

The Centre for Computing History was my destination once more for Day 2 of the NCCE Algorithms in GCSE Computer Science course.

Anjali and Chris were again on hand to guide our small but merry group in the ways of approaching a challenge patiently, logically and with an eye to what can be delivered through coding.

Loving the pun in the name: the concept of computing – ie applying a logical reasoned process to – history itself.!





Cambridge Algorithm Fun

Immersed in the wonderful world of historical tech at The Centre For Computing History, in Cambridge.

My thanks to Anjali and Chris for a fascinating insight into engaging techniques for the teaching of algorithms.

Their delivery of this NCCE Accelerator course was inspirational, in every sense!

Also rather enjoyed the chance to explore the adjoining facilities at lunchtime and then to have the immense space, crammed with humming / beeping / clicking tech to enjoy – until it was time to catch the bus back.!





Transition Group Meeting – we are underway!


Thank you to everyone who came along to LPA on Wednesday (20th March) for the first major gathering. There was a sense of tangible potential in the room that will make the next step – reporting on the data as a research project – a fun challenge to underpin the initiatives ahead. Thank you especially to Beverly who shared NCCE opportunities to all and for her encouragements. The mix of Primary and Secondary colleagues in one room, all sharing and documenting what they see of Transition each year – and taking the time to record those experiences with a view to improving the outlook for all pupils – was a mighty resource in action.






Team Swindon @BCS

Thanks to Beverly and all at BCS for a great start to our NCCE Facilitator Development Program. Swindon were well represented; robots were coded; and the Primary / Secondary / Tertiary worlds of education thoroughly post-it noted!


Apple IIc reboot

The continuing mission to seek out new ways to get my Dad’s old Apple IIc working – an update.

Looks like a capacitor on the main board might be the culprit. All chips now re-seated (first time using ‘spodging’ tools!)






GWA Coding Enrichment Club

Thank you to Graham and all at Great Western Academy for the invitation to lead their Coding Enrichment Club this term. The fact that every child operates their own laptop, and the marvellous resources were impressive – but what impressed me most was the polite, attentive and eager approach from pupils who were determined to get the most from their time, and to learn how to extend their coding skills into the realms of physical computing and Python.


South West Conference

Thanks to Beverly, Shirley and the team for a fascinating series of lectures and workshops in the beautiful surrounds of Plymouth University.

I came away feeling ever more inspired to take Computing further, and to broaden what we can offer in schools


A first play with Code Bug..




Code Bug, it transpires, is capable of producing 9 data sets and will soon feature WiFi & Bluetooth connectivity.

It has huge potential for Connected Technologies , Maker Education and the promotion of real world applications / data-driven decision making skills.


My grasp of core networking theories deepened thanks to Duncan Maidens and his simple-but-brilliant hands on approach to unravelling what data transmission is actually all about.

The whole faculty reverberated with exciting applications of tech.



from dawn to dusk, Plymouth is a beautiful spot.



The Cigar Box Computer gets a camera


..and a relay unit..


Beginning to run out of room in the box now! Amazingly the Rav power block continues to provide sufficient mw and voltage level.

Had to dissassemble the Pi 3B to reach the camera connector. Added a double height pin rack for the GPIO to allow access to the pins even with the Astro Pi / Sense Hat reattached.









Microbit Kodu controller


Having enjoyed sharing this with Primary School pupils quite a few times, now it is time to see what Secondary School pupils make of it: answer they mastered the Kodu When / Do  system at lightening pace then proceeded to apply the Microbit control to make a first-person jet flying game in an impressively quick jump – the sky is no limit to Year 11 Computer Science students!




Relay connect


With some of the new circuitry that I have extracted form old toys being in need of higher current switching than I would like to strain a Pi GPIO with, tis time for a relay or two..




Self Watering Plant, Part 1


Just begun assembling and preparing the parts for what I hope will be a self watering plant mechanism..


Stage 1: take delivery of a battery-powered water pistol, then open it up..









This base was able to provide 3v and 4.5 v as well as having a useful switch and speaker point.

The connector block is to simplify connecting it up to the Pi / Microbit / Circuit Playground Express




First comes the opening up, then comes the moment of truth: has it got potential for inclusion into a new project?

Consideration must be given to the old battery / leaked battery / corroded connectors scenario as well as the voltage that it will be happy to operate with..



tinfoil is a great help..





Time to reveal the toy collection

There is a distinction between where a child’s toy meets a tool meets a gadget, but there was no need to draw that distinction in today’s Year 11 Computer Science class. After a brief introduction I threw open the wooden toolbox (from Sammy’s Garage – just the thing..) to reveal a smorgasbord of delights awaiting connection and coding up.



Pond probe

    What every discerning newt desires: a pond probe to illuminate the deepest reaches of the wild with:


sample bottle, spikes, absorbent foam, Velcro and a magnet to collect deep water samples and:

a {on-borrowed-time} bulb, lump of fool’s gold and a cat’s eye to shine / reflect so that location can be determined.


sorry newts!




Calculator reboot


    What to do with a calculator that has sustained damage resulting in some missing buttons?

Remove most of the remaining buttons then create a game with a complex dossier of rules that seek (not entirely successfully) to put the ‘fun’ into ‘functionality’!




Early gaming

    It doesn’t get much earlier than Pong – my thanks to my sisters who, on occasion, let me loose the family gaming system. This required:


a/ nobody being able to watch tv for the next hour

b/ a hunt around for new C size batteries

c/ twiddling the tuning button with extraordinary patience until the flickering on the tv resolved into white lines on a black background

  • tis still a mesmerizing prospect!



PS there is an Apple Watch pong now!


Honorable mentions must go to Tomy and Nintendo for these gems too (albeit 10 years later):