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The Little Book of Programming Challenges

The twenty seven challenges contained in this booklet are designed to challenge and inspire students whilst helping them on their journey to becoming a ‘computational thinker’. The ideas contained in the booklet will also provide useful teacher stimulation when planning lessons.

Many of the challenges...

Scratch Music Machine

Music Machine is designed as a simple introductory program for children aged 7-8. Students create four simple buttons which play different sounds when they are clicked with the left mouse button.

If they have time, they can create their own extra buttons. Computer science concepts include using a mouse click...

Bee-Bots 1,2,3 Programming Activity

This activity for younger children introduces algorithms and algorithmic thinking. After first planning how to draw numbers using the simple commands available, children then program a BeeBot to create the shapes (BeeBots are a type of simple programmable rover).

By watching and feeding back on each other's...

Session One: What Do We Already Know? Blockly Recap

This activity follows-on from previous exercises using the Blockly editor on the Rapid Router website. It reviews what the children have learned before they proceed to using text-based programming.

The exercise looks at the most advanced ideas used with the Blockly-based phase of the Rapid Router scheme,...

Session Two: Breaking Down the Problem into Chunks

This activity explores the concepts of pattern recognition and problem decomposition. It illustrates these ideas using a popular children's book, "We're going on a bear hunt" by Michael Rosen.

Children are asked to apply their understanding by then creating functions using the Blockly editor on the Rapid...

Session Three: Switching from Blockly to Python

In this Rapid Router activity, children progress from block-based programming to the textual environment of Python. In doing so they learn about the nature of text-based coding, including the need for precise syntax and how it is structured.

The progression is handled gently, with code compared in both...

Session Four: Understanding More Python Commands

This activity in the Rapid Router series takes children further in their transition to text-based programming in Python.

By creating Blockly programs and comparing them to the automatically-generated Python code, children are encouraged to identify code which matches. The complexity of the problems is...

Session Five: Writing Basic Code Directly in Python

This activity makes the leap from Blockly to Python programming. The 'grocery van driving challenge' is reduced from previous lessons to allow students to concentrate on syntax and correct coding using a limited set of instructions. Matching of Blockly and Python code is encouraged to assist the transition.

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Session Six: Flying Solo with Python

This lesson activity further develops Python programming ability by introducing additional commands such as WHILE, IF, ELSE and ELIF. Debugging of programs is featured, and extension activities lead to the writing of functions that use COUNT IN RANGE() to control repetition. Students are also encouraged to mark-up...

Session Seven: Increase the Challenge - Creating New Python Variables, Incrementing Variables.

This activity goes further into Python programming by expanding the range of repetition and selection commands used. Students also practice debugging of code.

Variables are explained before making use of incremented variables to solve challenges in Python.

Other programming practices, including...

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