CAS North East Newsletter    November 2015
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Dear CAS member,


We are delighted to announce the establishment of a CAS Regional Centre at Newcastle University. Our geographical region stretches from Teesside to Northumberland. We have been operating since the beginning of September 2015 and we are already working closely with the region's CAS Master Teachers. We will be helping them support local teachers in CAS lead schools, CAS member schools and beyond.

The aim is to build a community of practice through CAS hubs, CPD events, our regional conference, one-to-one support for teachers and through many other activities, including this newsletter. We want this newsletter to inform and excite. We want to celebrate computing education across the region. We very much welcome news from you about computing in your school, or your community, or your contributions to computing education.

Setting up the CAS North East in the School of Computing Science at Newcastle University made perfect sense. The School is a well-established academic department. Its predecessor Computing Laboratory was founded in 1957 and, in 1967, was one of the first UK universities to offer an undergraduate degree in Computing Science. The School has been active in CAS and has an extensive outreach programme. There are already strong links to the region's CAS Master Teachers and Hubs, and the outreach team have previously organised two CAS North East regional conferences as well as other CPD for teachers. The CAS North East website also provides information about CAS and CAS-related events in the region. CAS North East will build on this work and increase the capacity to engage with teachers and schools across the region.

I know many of you have contributed to and/or attended many CAS events in the past and will appreciate that this is a really exciting move. We are very much looking forward to working with many of you in the coming months. And please remember to let us know what you are doing so that we can spread the word through future editions of this newsletter.

Jeanette Patterson - CAS North East

BBC Micro:bit Roadshow

On Tuesday 6th October CAS North East hosted the much anticipated BBC Micro:bit Roadshow.

Many CAS master teachers and other educators were the first people in the region to get their hands on the micro:bits; learning how to program and use the micro: bits so they can spread the word and train many other teachers and pupils across the region.

For those who don’t already know, in March 2015 the BBC launched “Make it Digital”, which is a UK wide initiative to inspire a new generation to get creative with programming and digital technology. Part of this initiative is the BBC micro:bit; a personal programmable device which will be given to every Year 7 child in the UK, completely free of charge.

The micro:bit has been specifically created for young people to own. It offers natural progression from screen based visual languages to more complex text based programming. It is a very simple computer that can be programmed using another device. Code is written on a smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop and then compiled and downloaded onto the BBC micro:bit device itself.

The device has a display 25 LEDs along with some simple input controls. It is small (about the size of a credit card) so it can be carried easily in a pocket or even worn. There is a battery pack so you can disconnect the device and use it on the move. The device can be connected to sensors and even has a built in accelerometer to detect movement and a compass or magnetometer, so it knows which direction it is facing. It also has Bluetooth Low Energy, which will allow the micro:bit to be part of the “Internet of Things” – extending the internet to embedded systems such as fridges and cars and many more.

Several programming languages are already available to start coding with the BBC micro:bit, and we anticipate that this device will help spread the message that computing and programming can be a lot of fun at the same time as helping pupils across the region to develop their programming and computational thinking skills.

The device was very well received by our local teachers and we anticipate it will be delivered to schools in early spring. Look out for further training from CAS North East and the master teachers in the coming months to ensure that you and your pupils can get the most out of this exciting new device.
Nick Cook from CAS North East lends a hand at the BBC Micro:bit workshop
Nick Cook from CAS North East lends a hand at the BBC Micro:bit workshop

Sandhill View Academy Computing Open Evening

Alongside Hub meetings, CAS Master Teachers and other curriculum champions host a variety of CPD sessions and other activities, such as 1:1 support for schools, cluster meetings, coding evenings, moderation sessions and of course more formal training events. These can take place in your school!! Contact your local master teacher or CAS London directly to request specific training. What do you need?

At Sandhill View AcadeSandhill - view - computing - open- openingmy, a CAS lead school for Computer Science, year 5 and 6 visiting pupils were invited to step into the fictional world of Cybertron. Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, had been badly damaged and required new hardware devices to rebuild his body, as well as his programs rebooted.

Pupils were challenged to select appropriate hardware devices to rebuild Optimus and justify their choices. They were then encouraged to develop programs to allow Optimus to “transform” and to speak to his fellow Autobots.  The visiting primary schools all enjoyed the event immensely and were able to develop their knowledge and skills in Computer Science in a fun and active manner.

Ben Hughes - CAS Master Teacher

CAS North East Team at Gateshead Library E-Day

Nick Cook and Josh Hills represented CAS North East and the Newcastle University School of Computing Outreach Team at the Gateshead library eDay on Saturday 25 September.

They ran workshops throughout the day in which a constant stream of children programmed the CrumbleBot. The CrumbleBot is a robot built on Redfern Electronics Crumble Controller.

The Crumble comes with a block-based programming environment and is aimed older primary and younger secondary children – though a number of adults enjoyed programming the robot on the eDay! The CrumbleBot is available from 4tronix ( and is an excellent introduction to robots – from simple forward and backward movement to line and light following with on-board sensors.

The eDay was a great success with BuildIT and many others also providing workshops. It also made the local press! see


There are a number of things going on around the region and the CAS North East events page will have the latest dates for all CAS and related activities such as CPD, training and hub meetings. For a full list, check out

Python Programming with Data Structures – Part 1
26th November 2015. 16.00 – 18.00

Sandhill View Academy, Sunderland.
£44 Book here

SEN Computing Conference
1 December 2015 9.30 -16.00
National Stem Centre, York
£250 +VAT (bursaries available for teachers to attend)
Book here

Northumberland First CAS Hub Meeting
9th December 4.30 – 18.30
Chantry Middle School, Morpeth
Free. To book email   

Important Date for Your Diary
The 3rd CAS North East Regional Conference Thursday 16th June 2016 - with usual mix of hands-on workshops for primary and secondary and keynotes from local and national experts.
Our mailing address is:
CAS North East, School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU.

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