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Computer Science

 

Learning Journey & Sequencing Rationale

A high-quality computing education equips learners to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with mathematics, science and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of computing is computer science, in which learners are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, learners are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computing also ensures that learners become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.

 
 

unit overview - autumn term 1

Subject:Cyber-security

Skills

  • Explain the difference between data and information;
  • Critique online services in relation to data privacy;
  • Identify what happens to data entered online;
  • Explain the need for the Data Protection Act;
  • Recognise how human errors pose security risks to data;
  • Implement strategies to minimise the risk of data being compromised through human error;
  • Define hacking in the context of cyber security;
  • Explain how a DDoS attack can impact users of online services;
  • Identify strategies to reduce the chance of a brute force attack being successful;
  • Explain the need for the Computer Misuse Act;
  • List the common malware threats;
  • Examine how different types of malware causes problems for computer systems;
  • Question how malicious bots can have an impact on societal issues;
  • Compare security threats against probability and the potential impact to organisations;
  • Explain how networks can be protected from common security threats;
  • Identify the most effective methods to prevent cyberattacks;

Knowledge

This unit focuses on the following key areas of cybersecurity, cybercrime, and the laws in place surrounding these issues:

  • Profiling
  • Data Protection Act
  • Computer Misuse Act
  • Hacking
  • Malware
  • Protection methods such as firewalls, anti-malware, and password authentication

Rationale

This unit takes the students on an eye-opening journey of discovery about techniques used by cybercriminals to steal data, disrupt systems, and infiltrate networks.

The students will start by considering the value of their data to organisations and what they might use it for. They will then look at social engineering techniques used by cybercriminals to try to trick users into giving away their personal data.

The unit will look at the more common cybercrimes such as hacking, DDoS attacks, and malware, as well as looking at methods to protect ourselves and our networks against these attacks.

unit overview - autumn term 2 

Subject: Animations

Skills

Students consider the impact of 3D animation on the wider world, linking to their own experiences. They will be introduced to the basics of making models in Blender: deleting and adding objects; moving, rotating, scaling, and colouring. They make their own 3D model of a snowman — or a simple snow scene.

Students cover the basics of keyframe animation, the technique behind 3D digital animations.  Students explain the differences between keyframing and stop motion animation, and justify why keyframing might be preferable in computer animation.  Students experience using the Blender timeline to add, delete, and move keyframes while they animate a winter scene.

Students cover more complex modelling techniques to build realistic-looking models. Starting from primitive objects, such as cubes and cylinders, students use edit mode and the extrude, loop cut, and face editing commands to make a rocket and a chair.

Students cover modelling techniques to make organic/natural-looking models. Students first see the importance of breaking symmetry in their models to mimic the real world. They cover several modelling tools that allow more natural-looking images, including proportional editing, the knife tool, and subdivision.

Students set up a film shot for rendering. This includes adding extra lighting, adjusting the camera, picking a render mode, and changing the render settings.  Students understand the lights available in Blender, how to set up a camera for a shot, and the benefits and drawbacks of using ray tracing in their films.

Students create a 3–10 second video based on their plan.

Knowledge

  • Add, delete, move, scale and rotate objects
  • Use a material to add colour to objects
  • Add, move, and delete keyframes to make basic animations
  • Play, pause, and move through the animation using the timeline
  • Create useful names for objects
  • Join multiple objects together using parenting
  • Use edit mode and extrude; use loop cut and face editing
  • Apply different colours to different parts of the same model
  • Use proportional editing, the knife tool & subdivision
  • Add and edit set lighting, set up the camera
  • Compare different render modes
  • Create a 3–10 second animation
  • Render out the animation

Rationale

Films, television, computer games, advertising, and architecture have been revolutionised by computer-based 3D modelling and animation. In this unit students will discover how professionals create 3D animations using the industry-standard software package, Blender. 

By completing this unit students will gain a greater understanding of how this important creative field is used to make the media products that we consume. Sessions will take students through the basics of modelling, texturing, and animating; outputs will include 3D models, short videos, and VR. Links are made throughout to computer science, computational thinking, and the world of work. Tools and techniques learnt in this unit can also be used for 3D printing.

unit overview - spring term 1 

Subject: Python programming with sequences of data

Skills

Students reconnect with Python, making sure they can read and create simple programs that use selection, and work with lists.

Students perform common list operations: adding, removing, or modifying items; locating or counting items, etc. Students take short challenges, and identify which list operations perform these tasks, and use dot notation for list methods.

Students code iteration using while loops, practising list operations in iterative contexts.  Students consider lists and strings, e.g. length, membership, and access to individual characters, then apply these string operations iteratively.

Students use a for-loop to iterate over list items. They study examples to familiarise themselves with syntax, use, and mechanics before applying this knowledge. The activities involve iterating over lists of real-world textual and numerical data.

Students select a meaningful mini-projects that allow them to apply knowledge and skills they have acquired so far. Each project contains a short introduction, a detailed description of what they should develop, and clues that support their solution. Each student selects one mini-project and completes it.

Students complete their mini-project or explore a second one. They then take a quiz that assesses their grasp of the programming concepts in the unit.

Knowledge

  • Write programs that display messages, receive keyboard input, and use simple arithmetic expressions in assignment statements
  • Use selection (if-elif-else statements) to control program flow
  • Locate and correct common syntax errors
  • Create lists and access individual list items
  • Perform common operations on lists or individual items
  • Use iteration (while statements) to control the flow of program execution
  • Perform common operations on lists or individual items
  • Perform common operations on strings or individual characters
  • Use iteration (for statements) to iterate over list items
  • Perform common operations on lists or strings
  • Use iteration (for loops) to iterate over lists and strings
  • Use variables to keep track of counts and sums
  • Combine programming language features to solve problems

Rationale

This unit introduces students to how data can be represented and processed in sequences, e.g. lists and strings. The lessons cover operations on sequences of data that range from accessing an individual element to manipulating the entire sequence. The selection of problems used in the programming tasks are realistic and engaging: students process solar system planets, book texts, capital cities, leaked passwords, word dictionaries, ECG data, etc.

A range of pedagogical tools are employed throughout the unit, with the most prominent being pair programming, live coding, and worked examples.

The Year 7 and 8 Programming units are prerequisites for this unit. It is assumed that students are already able to write Python programs that display messages, receive keyboard input, use simple arithmetic expressions, and control the flow of program execution through selection and iteration structures.

unit overview - spring term 2 

Subject: Physical computing

Skills

Students explore micro: bit hardware components and develop awareness of its capabilities. They also write and execute their first Python programs on the micro:bit, to familiarise themselves with the development environment, the practicalities of flashing their programs, and some simple coding patterns.

Students write programs that use the micro:bit’s 5⨉5 LED display for output and some of the built-in sensors for obtaining input.

Students use the micro:bit’s General-Purpose Input Output (GPIO) pins to connect it to external hardware components, e.g. switches, speakers, and LEDs.

Students use the micro:bit’s radio antenna in order to transmit and receive messages wirelessly. Students also discuss project ideas.

Students build their own physical computing project, bringing together what they have learnt into a meaningful creation. They work on their project prototype, following the proposal they drafted in the previous lesson.

Students add the finishing touches to their projects; they document what they have produced and reflect on the journey. They also take a quiz to assess the knowledge and skills they have individually acquired over the unit.

Knowledge

  • Describe what the micro:bit is and list its input and output devices
  • Use a development environment to write, execute, and debug a Python program for the micro:bit
  • Write programs that use the micro:bit’s built-in input and output devices
  • Write programs that use GPIO pins to generate output and receive input
  • Write programs that communicate with other devices by sending and receiving messages wirelessly
  • Design a physical computing artefact purposefully, keeping in mind the problem at hand, the audience needs, and the available resources
  • Decompose the functionality of a physical computing system into simpler features
  • Implement a physical computing project, while following, revising, and refining the project plan

Rationale

This unit applies and enhances the students’ programming skills in a new engaging context: physical computing, using the BBC micro:bit.

First, students get acquainted with the components built into the micro:bit, and write simple programs that use these components to interact with the physical world. They refresh their Python programming skills and encounter a range of programming patterns that arise frequently in physical computing applications.

Second, students work in pairs to build a physical computing project. They are required to select and design their project purposefully, apply what they have learnt by building a prototype, and keep a structured diary of the process.

The Year 8 and 9 programming units are prerequisites for this unit. It is assumed that students are already able to write Python programs that use variables and data structures to keep track of information. They are also expected to be able to combine sequence, selection, iteration, and function/method calls to control the flow of program execution.

unit overview - summer term 1 

Subject: Representations – going audio-visual

Skills

Students will create digital mosaics pixel by pixel, and experience how an image composed of individual-coloured elements can correspond to a sequence of binary digits. This will help them form an initial understanding of how the images that they encounter daily in their digital devices translate to nothing more than long strings of bits.

Students will explore the most common representation of colour as a mixture of red, green, and blue: the level of each of these colours in the mixture is represented using an 8-bit sequence, producing a total of 24 bits to represent the colour of any single pixel.  They will also build on their existing knowledge to calculate the representation size of digital images.

Students will use appropriate software to perform a range of image manipulation functions and complete specific tasks and challenges.  The instructions in the worksheets are tailored to GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program, available at gimp.org), which is open-source and cross-platform.

Tracing the steps of a hiker through the altitude data that she transmits, students will familiarise themselves with the basic concepts necessary for understanding any analogue to digital conversion: samples, sampling rate, and sample size.

The main goal is for students to understand the ‘big picture’ of how sound is captured, digitised, manipulated, and reproduced in digital devices.

Students will revisit the digitisation process, in order to understand how the sampling rate and the sample size affect the size and quality of the representation. Next, they will use a sound editing program that will allow them to experiment with sound to complete specific tasks and challenges. The instructions in the worksheets are tailored to Audacity (audacityteam.org), which is open-source and cross-platform.

Finally, students will spend half the lesson completing a summative assessment. In the time remaining, they will be introduced to alternative (symbolic) representations for images and sound, such as vector graphics and MIDI music. They will also be introduced to what compression is and why it is necessary.

Knowledge

  • Describe how digital images are composed of individual elements
  • Recall that the colour of each picture element is represented using a sequence of binary digits
  • Define key terms such as ‘pixels’, ‘resolution’, and ‘colour depth’
  • Describe how an image can be represented as a sequence of bits
  • Describe how colour can be represented as a mixture of red, green, and blue, with a sequence of bits representing each colour’s intensity
  • Compute the representation size of a digital image, by multiplying resolution (number of pixels) with colour depth (number of bits used to represent the colour of individual pixels)
  • Describe the trade-off between representation size and perceived quality for digital images
  • Perform basic image editing tasks using appropriate software and combine them in order to solve more complex problems requiring image manipulation
  • Explain how the manipulation of digital images amounts to arithmetic operations on their digital representation
  • Describe and assess the creative benefits and ethical drawbacks of digital manipulation (Education for a Connected World)
  • Recall that sound is a wave
  • Explain the function of microphones and speakers as components that capture and generate sound
  • Define key terms such as ‘sample’, ‘sampling frequency/rate’, ‘sample size’
  • Describe how sounds are represented as sequences of bits
  • Calculate representation size for a given digital sound, given its attributes
  • Explain how attributes such as sampling frequency and sample size affect characteristics such as representation size and perceived quality, and the trade-offs involved
  • Perform basic sound editing tasks using appropriate software and combine them in order to solve more complex problems requiring sound manipulation
  • Recall that bitmap images and pulse code sound are not the only binary representations of images and sound available
  • Define ‘compression’, and describe why it is necessary

Rationale

Digital pictures are formed out of individual pixels (picture elements), just like the Greek and Roman mosaics are formed out of individual pieces of glass or stone. However, unlike their ancient counterparts, the elements in digital mosaics are aligned in rows and columns, with the colour of each element represented as a sequence of binary digits.

In this unit, students will focus on digital media such as images and sounds, and discover the binary digits that lie beneath these types of media.

Just like in the previous unit, where students examined characters and numbers, the ideas that students need to understand are not really new to them. You will draw on familiar examples of composing images out of individual elements, mixing elementary colours to produce new ones, and taking samples of analogue signals, to illustrate these ideas and bring them together in a coherent narrative.

This unit also has a significant practical aspect. Students will use relevant software (GIMP and Audacity, in this case) to manipulate images and sounds and get an idea of how the underlying principles of digital representations are applied in real settings.

This unit builds on the material from the Year 8 unit, ‘Representations: from clay to silicon’.

unit overview - summer term 

Subject: Python Turtle Graphics

Skills

Students are able to create simple computer programs using the Python Turtle Graphics (PTG) module, which extends on existing Python skills to reinforce:

  • Sequence - input and output and basic image generation
  • Selection – modification of behaviour within the code for selective execution of code paths
  • Iteration – the use of looping constructs to create dynamic images.
  • Computational mathematical operations to manipulate screen coordinates

To be able to implement sub-routines in program code

To be able to develop programs for image generation

To be able to debug and correct problems in their code

To be able to annotate code using appropriate terminology and technical language

Knowledge

Know how to implement Python Turtle Graphic module code by importing the PTG module and referencing its library of functions

Know how to utilise the PTG syntax to create images and draw custom shapes:

  • Movement commands: left, right, forward
  • Pen commands: pen-up, pen-down, colour, size
  • Shape Commands: circle, square, fill and end fill

Understand how to nest loops within loops for kaleidoscopic image creation

Know how to implement mathematical operations as part of plotting images on the screen

Know how produce algorithmic solutions for specific problems based on requirement statements

Know the purpose of subroutines in a program, and understand how to implement sub-routines

Understand the importance of ‘commenting’ code and documentation

Rationale

This unit extends and reinforces the students’ programming skills using the Python PTG extension.   It applies their learning of Python and computational thinking to some motivating tasks where they create ever more creative and colourful shapes using the Turtle module.

By the end of the unit, students will be able to design their own images using short snippets of code, as well as debug, annotate and document their code.  They are also encouraged to explain their designs, so as to become conscious of the algorithms they are creating. 

We believe that creating patterns and shapes in Python is an excellent pathway to learning the programming techniques used in the higher year groups, because the students often become so determined to make better and better shapes, they start using more complex techniques.  For example, it is not uncommon in this unit to see students coding in nested loops and making use of subroutines in their code – if they master these techniques, they will thrive at GCSE.

knowledge Organiser

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.