It was a privilege to introduce some of our students to this software which is currently available only to two schools in London.
On Wednesday 11 January a group of 15 students from Years 7, 8 and 12 set off to one of the computing labs at UCL for an introduction to MATLAB from Dr Venus Shum. “MATLAB – what’s that?” you may well ask. It’s advanced software used in design by NASA, aircraft engineers and car manufacturers; it’s used in medical diagnosis, financial modelling and analysis of social media networks, to name just a few areas.
Supported by MathWorks and working in collaboration with developers in India, Venus and I are writing lessons as part of a book on which we are collaborating to introduce students to this software with the BBC micro:bit. Our younger students found their way around the complex interface relatively easily and most of them experimented with variations on the lessons, which was exactly what we wanted to see. Meanwhile, the sixth formers went through the materials and came up with some very interesting variations which we will build into future lessons.
One of the UCL staff carried out video interviews which were really interesting and which provide valuable insight into students’ thinking. I was particularly heartened by one Y7 student who explained that there really should be more lessons, some easy, some hard. Another student wanted to come to UCL each week! Can’t promise that but we will be back and we will provide opportunities for those students who wanted to come but who were not among the first to respond.
Software such as MATLAB, Hadoop, Zookeeper and Pig may not be household names like Word, Photoshop and Excel but they are shaping the world in which we live. It was a privilege to introduce some of our students to this software which is currently available only to two schools in London. Watch this space for more developments!