This term has been incredibly busy for the Computer Science and STEAM department here at BISS Puxi. As one of the Pillars of Nord Anglia Education, STEAM plays a massive part in students developing a range of skills across a range of disciplines. Students are encouraged to “Be Curious, Collaborative and Creative” as well as apply their maths, science and computational thinking skills leading them towards being thoughtful and creative problem solvers. Technology is ever changing and understanding the concepts that underpin it is important in ensuring that students are equipped with transferable skills that can be applied in the real world.
BISS ROBOTICS TEAM
We started the term with a 16-hour build at SAS, where we worked with students from across China to learn how to build our VEX V5 robots and understand the rules of this year’s competition, Over and Under. Back at school, our Robotics ECA continued working on both our VEX V5 models as well as the smaller version, the VEX IQ robot. Later in the term, we attended a Scrimmage, a practice competition where students play against other teams and build some experience of the competitions. The events teach students to think fast; having to constantly reflect on their designs and adjust their strategy depending on the other teams’ robots or positioning.
Key Stage 3 students interested in Robotics were given the opportunity to attend a First Lego League introductory session. The day gave them an introduction to our newest additions to the Robotics Department, the LEGO Spike. They learnt how to build and use sensors to develop a robot that could compete in a First Lego League competition. We are hoping to enter some competitions against other schools in 2024!
Alongside our Robotics ECA, students in Years 7 and 8 also develop their robotics skills using VEX IQ Robots to complete this year’s challenge: Full Volume. In Year 7, we focus on coding, using a virtual environment to complete the challenge and in Year 8, we develop design thinking alongside coding to create our actual robots.
YEAR 8 BISS TREK
Students in Year 8 have been developing their video editing skills by re-creating scenes from Star Trek. Students had to develop their own storyboards and scripts revolving around Captain Kirk and Spock saving BISS from an unknown threat. The students used the newly refreshed Green Screen room to film scenes and then, added in special effects so they could ‘beam up Scotty’! There were lots of teacher cameos which provided much entertainment for staff and students alike. We can’t wait to see what the rest of Year 8 students produce next term.
MIT CHALLENGE AND EXHIBITION
This year’s MIT Theme is all about Building Better with a focus on addressing UNICEF’s SDG of sustainability. For Year 7’s challenge, we were asked by Dr Mary Gherring to research climate change and identify the effects it will have on environments in the future. Using this knowledge, students were then asked to apply their scientific understanding of plant anatomy and adaptation to design a plant that would survive these changing environments. Students presented their research and completed models to parents and teachers during our end of project exhibition.
Our MIT collaboration provides students with a real insight into current issues facing the world. Students are encouraged to use their skills from other subjects and apply them to develop solutions to these issues.
As well as the MIT Challenges, students can also participate in the MIT At Home challenges via the Global Campus, which gives students the opportunity for independent learning. Students also have access to the MIT Abstracts which are talks given by leading scientists on various topics. And finally, students can also Ask the Expert a question. This can be a question about any topic in which you are interested. If your question is answered, you receive a Gold Badge and could be in with a chance to participate in the student trip to MIT, just like Nicholas in Year 10 did in October.
SHANGHAI HACKATHON by Nikita Grunchard, Year 12 (Winner of Best Collaborative Team)
From 07:30 on Saturday 25th to 14:00 on Sunday 26th November, I participated in the Hackathon at Wellington. As it was my first Hackathon, I had no clue of what was to happen, in fact I was slightly worried I wouldn’t have the necessary skills and experience to do well in the competition.
After arriving at the event, I met my pair, and shortly after the introduction discussing the twelve scenarios and success criteria, I met my team members. I was hopeful about our chances of winning and attended my first workshop. This was an introduction to 3D modelling, which I found very interesting and made something, that I had always thought of as a complicated endeavour, seem much less of a daunting task, as I learnt 3D modelling was much simpler than I had thought.
After we were done with a short photo shoot, my teammates went on to their second workshop whilst I had to return home for an hour due to a small mishap with my lenses. Once I returned, we quickly got to work. We brainstormed together for a solution regarding the scenario which we had chosen, that being scenario number seven. After agreeing on an idea, we got to work. We became more and more confident as time went on.
After a few hours of work, and a few troubles regarding the integration of AI into the website, we were done. I then experienced an emotion which I hadn’t experienced until then, I felt proud of my work, and what we had accomplished as a team. After completing our presentation on Sunday morning, my team and I waited eagerly in the sports hall, where the presentations were held, for the judges were to come and inspect our work.
BEBRAS UK – CODING CHALLENGE
Students across the school were given the chance to participate in the Bebras UK Challenge; a computational thinking competition that requires you to complete a series of challenging problems using logic. Just under half a million students participated in the UK and around 3 million worldwide. Students who came in the top 10% for their age group were given a Gold Certificate and an invitation to participate in the OUCC, a prestigious competition run by Oxford University in January.
Top 10% for your age group (Internationally)
Xin Yu Low
Best In School Awards
Chujie Matthew Yick (Y12)
Xi Er Ruan (Y10)
Inters (Y8 and Y9)
Anqi Hao (Y8)
Hao-Bo Tsao (Y7)
COMPUTER SCIENCE WEEK – THEME AI
Year 10 IGCSE Computer Science students kickstarted the week delivering a whole school assembly to students about AI. They explained what AI was, how it works, what it can be used for alongside its ethical implications. AI is an important advancement in technology that will affect all aspects of our lives. Equipping students with how to use it effectively and ethically is important in developing skills they will need not only now but in the future.
Students have been participating in a range of activities as part of the internationally-run Computer Science Week. Students in Key Stage 3 have been using Block Code and AI to create dance routines with characters in their Hour of Code lessons. Students have also been encouraged to investigate the topic of AI around school with our Explore boards which provide a range of videos, quizzes and articles that students can access via a QR code.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Secondary Maker Space is open during lunchtimes. Students can come along to work on their own creative projects or make something more seasonal. This term, students have designed their own scary Trick or Treat bags for Halloween, made their own candles for Diwali, and made their own pencil cases. Students can also use the VR headsets as well as work on their team robots.
DIGITAL LEADERS by Charles Li, Year 8
This term, I have been working with Ms Nagulendran in the STEAM Department to make sure that the department and its resources are looked after. Recently, I developed a borrowing system for the VR headsets as I noticed that there were often long queues of students who wanted to borrow them. Now, we have a much more efficient system.
I have also worked with fellow DL, Kylin, to give the STEAM rooms a makeover with lots of posters to signpost areas and making sure everything is organised. I have also given training to the Digital Leaders team on how to use the new VR booking system.
I enjoy Computer Science and Robotics and I also enjoy being in the Maker Space/Robotics area at lunchtime. I like working with everyone in the Digital Leaders team and I like being able to contribute to the department and help Ms Nagulendran. Next term, I want to invite more students to join the Digital Leader team and work on our 3D printing system.
And finally … welcome to the department, Mr Aidoo!
As well as lots of activities, trips and scrimmages, we also welcomed our new Computer Science and STEAM teacher, Mr Maxwell Aidoo. Mr Aidoo comes to us with lots of IB experience and an enthusiasm for robots, and will no doubt be a huge asset to the department.