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Section Title Primary information Description and Notes Suggested resources
Lesson Length The expected lesson length will be approximately one hour

Some variation possible.

Assessment Level 1

Students The lesson is suitable for KS3 and KS4 students Since this is a new specification, the lesson is suitable for Year 7 to 9 students and differentiated by outcome  
Overall Focus The lesson focus will start to look in more detail at algorithms, especially the variables that make them work This lesson will begin to introduce the idea of the term variable and how this is used in algorithms and computer programs

Lesson Links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39

Key words algorithm, abstraction, programming language, instruction, open source, digital, file types, variable These words need to be reinforced throughout the series of lessons  
Assessment change variables in an algorithm and predict the effect Evidence here will be student's reflecting on what they understand and assessor observations  
Key Questions Some questions to get learners thinking about the topics Looking at the way variables are used in algorithms to make them work more efficiently Currency logo What examples can they think of to understand variables?  If they go on holiday, what variables are important when it comes to changing their money?  What variables do they need to think about for their life choices: more enjoyable job; more money?
Learning Objectives
  • To introduce and check that students understand variables
  • To describe and explain, with examples, how variables affect outcomes
  • To understand how variables are determined and why they are important to understand
  • To understand the process of variables in prediction

Students need to see and try a number of systems with variables to see their impact and manipulation

If you are using the Learning Machine learning system, students can add their comments and material to this site as evidence of their growing understanding.  The site, if used consistently, will show progression via charts of activity and outcomes.
Teaching and Learning Elements
  • Introduce some examples of systems using variables that can be adjusted
  • A teacher led demonstration of variables and predictions
  • Students can break into groups and work on their own variables
  • Class discussion and evaluation of the wider uses of models for predictions
  • Summarize the key points and reinforce the importance of routines in good model

Students need to be shown some of the ways variables are used and how predictions depend on them in many areas.

Lesson Structure Possible structure
  1. introduce some examples of systems using variables
  2. show students some more detailed examples of variables and the results.  use some wide ranging data sets
  3. group work to work on some of their own
  4. discuss what they have learned and what they can apply
  5. volunteers to share their work and explain how they came to their final versions
  6. highlight next week's focus and issue homework

This German website allows you to change variables in a simulated motorway to see the effects.  Increase the speed and density and see how much the traffic jams increase.

Google logo This well known site uses a lot of algorithms.

The password generator we looked at in an earlier lesson also uses an algorithm to find the best password for users based on factors such as mixing capitals and small letters, numbers, symbols etc.  These are variables.  See how it changes by changing the variables.

The PedSim software can be installed to simulate how people crowd together.

This online webpage allows you to change variables and see their effect on Tsunamis.  These are pre-made models, but they can see their effect.

Change the viscosity and gas on your own Volcano and see the effects.

ImactEart! logo What if a meteor comes to Earth?  Change the variables (size, weight, speed, impact angle) and see what happens.  Stress to students the importance of types of variable.  In this simulation, the fixed element is that it will hit earth, the changeable ones are the speed and weight etc.  Students should be able to understand that a variable is a changeable quantity.

Homework Get students to write a list of variables that can be used to predict the weather. Students can vary their homework depending on their level of understanding Get students to document their recipes on their portfolio system for assessment


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