I am currently working on plans for a six-week ICT project to introduce Year 6 to Computational Thinking and the world of Algorithms. This project has been inspired by the fantastic “Computational Fairy Tales” book by Jeremy Kubica.
The project takes place in the Mysterious Land of Ict which is plagued by a group of dragons. In the first lesson the children will be told that all of the villages in Ict are regularly attacked by these dragons and so they have developed a system to signal when a dragon is spotted. They use bonfires to signify when a dragon is near – a lit bonfire means a dragon has been sighted. Unfortunately due to strict Health and Safety rules and a lack of firewood each village is only allowed to have a maximum of three bonfires – but there are seven dragons pestering the villages. For their first task the children will be asked if they can work out how to signal that up to 7 dragons have been spotted by only using 3 bonfires. Depending on how the children deal with this challenge it will lead on to the idea of binary and how by using 3 bonfires we can signal the sighting of up to seven dragons as follows…
000 = no dragons
00x = 1 dragon
0x0 = 2 dragons
0xx = 3 dragons
x00 = 4 dragons
x0x = 5 dragons
xx0 = 6 dragons
xxx = 7 dragons
The children will then be given a map and a list of villages to visit so that they can record how many dragons have been spotted recently. Each of the villages on the map will be named after one of the other teachers at school and so that location on the map will refer to their classroom. So if a child is asked to visit the village called Riley they will go to the Head of Geography’s classroom, look at the picture of bonfires in the classroom window and then record how many dragons have been spotted. (I will leave it up to each of the teacher’s to decide which bonfires they will light).
They will return to the Capital of ICT, Leach and then record the dragon sightings in a spreadsheet.
This lesson idea is inspired mainly by Jeremy Kubica’s Using Binary to Warn of Snow Beasts tale.