At TNMOC, school groups and children visiting with families have the opportunity to see the beginnings and development of computing. A very popular feature is the “classroom” where there are 15 restored and working BBC micros from the 1980s. Undistracted by the internet and Facebook, the youngsters are encouraged to start writing their own computer programs. As Chris Monk, TNMOC’s Learning Co-ordinator tells them “there are too many people eating, but no-one’s cooking - everyone is using applications but far too few are writing the programs.”
However, much as the youngsters may enjoy programming on the BBCs, there is a need to bridge the gap between what they start to learn at TNMOC and how they can continue to learn at home and school. In TNMOC there are 15 BBCs and the eventual aim is to provide 15 counter-point laptops to be used to show how the skills that the youngsters learn on the BBC can be transferred to the equipment they may have access to every day. On the laptops they will be directed to online resources such as MIT Scratch and Python.
Throughout term-time, school groups come to TNMOC almost every weekday and demand is increasing all the time as word spreads amongst schools. Families with youngsters come to TNMOC when it is open and, whenever appropriate, youngsters are encouraged to programme.
Here’s a nice BBC video of the sorts of things that schools get up to: