Teaching Computer Science outside the classroom

Date Posted: 14/05/2018

We look at ways to engage students in the world of computing through school trips, from computing museums to theme parks.

The Schools Minister, Nick Gibb recently announced measures to give teachers the support they need to teach and engage pupils in Computer Science and skills such as coding, computer programming and cyber security.

Organisations have been invited to run a National Centre of Computing Education which will involve 40 schools and aims to help improve teaching of the Computing curriculum. The Centre will include a programme which will train up around 8,000 teachers on the latest digital skills which will help most Secondary schools in England.

Besides in-school teaching, there are ways to inspire children which don’t involve white boards and school desks. There is a multitude of attractions which offer lessons in Computing or hold significance when it comes to the history of the computer. 

Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire is a fantastic place to start when it comes to learning about computers. As the home of the codebreakers during World War Two, the attraction today offers pupils the chance to see the very first computer systems and codebreaking huts. Pupils will learn about the pioneering work that took place to crack the German’s Enigma code. Sessions schools can book include Codes and Ciphers, tying in with Maths, History and Computing, and Cyber Security which ties in with History, Computing and PSHE.

A visit to Bletchley Park can be combined with a visit to The National Museum of Computing which is also housed within the confines of the Bletchley Park attraction. This museum holds artefacts and information to further your knowledge on the codebreakers and the history of computing. School sessions can be booked there too and are most suited to Key Stage 4 groups.

The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge is another option and features different zones relating to interactive experiences, such as a Games zone which looks at gaming technology and mechanics of games consoles and development of graphics, and the Megaprocessor Zone which shows visitors how important megaprocessors are as critical components of computers.

Thorpe Park in Surrey is a fun and educational attraction to take pupils. Not only can children learn about Engineering, Maths and Science but the park also offers a computing workshop suitable for Key Stage 3 and 4 classes, which centres around the Derren Brown's Ghost Train ride and looks at how digital images are manipulated for effect and future technologies.

The Museum of Computing in Swindon also offers education activities and visits for schools. Displays within the museum include both technical and social changes in computing and the effect they have had on society. Many items at the museum can be handled and a variety of machines will be running so pupils can get a better idea of how they work.

Have you visited a great Science museum recently? If so, you can vote for it in this year’s School Travel Awards. Find out about this category and plenty others that you can get involved with, here.

School Travel Organiser's Guide