Getting ready for Switched on Computing - Year 3

Unit 3.1 We are programmers

This is a unit where children can program their own open-ended animation in Scratch. The creativity that children can choose in this unit is great - I guess that some teachers who have used Scratch before will give free choice on which animation to use, whereas teachers who are new to Scratch might need to narrow down the choices a bit.

Note that there is a “go to front” block in Looks, but no “go to back” block. The way round this is to use the “Go back x layers” block and set this to “Go back 999 layers” as per the wiki at

If Scratch 2.0 online is being used, there’s the option to publish the project to a school website or blog, as per this guide post:

Hardware required: PCs or netbooks running Scratch

Software required: either Scratch 1.4 or 2.0 as per previous units

Support required: A “beginners guide” to Scratch with the basic blocks

Unit 3.2 We are bug fixers

This block also uses Scratch and is a great introduction to debugging. A lot of these scripts are best demonstrated off-screen as well as on-screen so that children can get a greater understanding of why they are not working as they should. They all need to be done online in Scratch 2.0 – or downloaded and opened in Scratch 1.4.

Step 2 – when you increase the value of the steps, it draws a bigger circle (that doesn’t necessarily join together at the end); when you increase the value of the degrees, Scratch cat draws the circle more quickly. The script works best if you increase both values proportionally – e.g. move 1 step, turn 0.8 degrees; move 2 steps, turn 1.6 degrees; move 4 steps, turn 3.2 degrees; move 8 steps, turn 6.4 degrees. Move 16 steps, turn 12.8 degrees is pretty fast!

Step 4 – to correct the bouncing ball, you have to use the following blocks:

  • Point in direction from the Motion section

  • X – x from the Operators section

  • Direction from the Motion section (right at the bottom)

So that the code looks like this:

bouncing ball code




Step 5 – to  make the script work for divisions where there is a remainder, change

  • Repeat until dividend = 0


  • Repeat until dividend < divisor (from the Operators section)

And then to make Scratch cat give the remainder, get her to say the dividend variable. Don’t forget the space characters before and after words! It will look something like this:







Step 6 – The “Cracking the code” racing car clip online is brilliant to watch. I think it will be great for kids to see other kids coding. I guess the success of changing this depends on what you define as “working” – I got the script to “work” at speed 15 and angle 30 degrees and it only crashed after a while!

I found it useful to remix the Scratch projects and save them under my own account with possible solutions to use later.

Hardware required: PCs / laptops / netbooks running Scratch

Software required: either Scratch 1.4 or 2.0 as per previous units

Unit 3.3 We are presenters 

Hardware required: Video camera & PC / netbook / laptop or iPad

Software required: Windows Movie Maker or iMovie

This looks like a fun unit. It would be useful to know how to do the following in whichever software is used:

  • Add a title clip

  • Add end credits

  • Import stills

  • Create transitions

  • Create slo-mo effects

Note that step 4 suggests saving the video files to the C:\ drive of a machine. If this is the case, you will need to make a list of which pupil is on which machine so that they can go back to their work if it is spread out over more than one session. This will also apply to iPads – make sure you have them numbered.

Unit 3.4 We are network engineers

unit 3.4 keep calme and be a network engineer

Do this unit with Year 3s and put me out of a job! Seriously though, this is a fantastic unit.

The activity in Step 2 will either be brilliant to help understanding – or very confusing! I would have another adult in the classroom for this if possible, especially to help some of the children write their messages down.

For steps 3 & 4 access for pupils to the command prompt is usually locked down, so I will need to look at this and decide whether to unlock it for these lessons or to use the web links to do network diagnostics.  If we did use our real school network, I would get the pupils to use “useful” IP addresses on the network, e.g. ping a printer with a reserved IP address, ping a wireless access point etc. This way it’s a simulation of a real trouble-shooting scenario, e.g. if you can’t print, try pinging the printer. I might even go as far as to then unplug the network cable to the printer and then get the children to ping it again to see the difference.

Hardware required: PC / laptop / netbook

Software required: Web browser

Unit 3.5 We are communicators 

Hardware needed: PC / laptop / netbook, webcam (possibly built in to the laptop or netbook)

Software needed: Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, Skype

Support needed: Email accounts set up for all pupils, Skype account set up

As per Unit 2.5, the choices here depend on which email software is used, e.g. in Derbyshire it could be the OpenHive system, or maybe 2Simple Email (if the school has this licensed) or Maily on the iPads.

Unit 3.6 We are opinion pollsters 

Given that none of my schools are signed up for Google Apps for Education at the moment, we will probably be looking at ways around this such as using Microsoft Word or possibly Microsoft InfoPath. There is a useful introductory tutorial on this at:

If Word is used, then the survey will need printing out and filling in manually. If Infopoint is used, then the surveys could be filled in on a PC / laptop / netbook. The answers would then need collating manually and the data entering into Excel to create graphs, and then these will need to be inserted into Powerpoint. This might not be quite as straightforward as using Google Apps, but it is still achievable.

Hardware needed: PC / laptop / netbook

Software needed: Word (or Infopath), Excel, Powerpoint.

Teacher CPD

  • When new to Scratch, it will be useful for teachers to have a basic guide to Scratch including some of the main blocks, as there are lots of different choices

  • How Windows Movie Maker works, as per the Software in 60 seconds from the CD or else time to play with iMovie

  • It would be beneficial to hold a staff meeting where all teachers are taken around the school network to see where the server is, where the router is, where wireless access points are and explain more about the web filtering in place so that they can then do the same tour with children.

  • To understand and explain the following terms: network, IP address, DNS, packets, caches (or caching), binary, server, wireless access point, cable.

  • How to use the class emails which are set up and how to use Skype

  • How to create forms in Word or InfoPath

This unit is definitely where the changeover from ICT to Computing really starts to show. I think there will be lots for teachers to learn here but it will produce some great results of Scratch projects, videos, trace route maps and survey results!


Switched On Computing

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