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Computing fundamentals

Unit of work

6 lessons


11-14 yrs

This series of six lessons is aimed at students in the first year of secondary school. Students are introduced to the core concepts of computational thinking, programming and computer systems through unplugged activities and learning with the BBC micro:bit. No prior learning is assumed and this is an ideal introduction for students to ensure they have a shared understanding of these important elements of computing.

Computational thinking:




Computer systems:

Hardware & software





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Lessons created in partnership with Nominet

Overall key learning

  • understand and apply the fundamental principles & concepts of computer science.
  • gain practical experience of writing computer programs to solve problems.
  • evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies analytically to solve problems
  • be responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.

Additional skills

Problem-solving, collaboration, creative thinking.

Lesson 1: Computational thinking 1

Students are introduced to computational thinking through a team challenge. They create and test a giant paper aeroplane and create an algorithm for someone else to follow.

Key learning:

  • To understand what ‘computational thinking’ is
  • To develop computational thinking skills
  • To write an accurate algorithm
Lesson 1 details

Lesson 2: Computational thinking 2

Students deepen and extend their learning of computational thinking by considering different applications of the concepts and designing a prototype of a computerised paper aeroplane.

Key learning:

  • To develop a deeper understanding of computational thinking concepts
  • To understand the steps in computational thinking
  • To develop and present a prototype and algorithm for a computerised paper aeroplane
Lesson 2 details

Lesson 3: Programming 1

Students learn how algorithms are followed to create programs, using flowcharts and pseudocode, and the importance of debugging and testing programs. 

Key learning:

  • To understand the relationship between algorithms and programming
  • To understand and use pseudocode and flowchart algorithms
  • To tinker, test and debug to create a working program using a graphical programming language
Lesson 3 details

Lesson 4: Programming 2

Students experiment with iteration and selection in algorithms and programs and explore using graphical and text-based programming languages.

Key learning:

  • To understand iteration and selection and why they are used
  • To develop algorithms and programs using iteration and selection
  • To experiment with graphical and text-based programming languages
Lesson 4 details

Lesson 5: Computer systems 1

Students develop their understanding of computer systems, learning about inputs and outputs, hardware and software,applying their understanding to create algorithms and write programs using the BBC micro:bit.

Key learning:

  • To know and understand the common features of computer systems
  • To be able to explain input and output devices, hardware and software
  • To apply understanding to writing algorithms and programming micro:bit
Lesson 5 details

Lesson 6: Computer systems 2

Students showcase their understanding of the BBC micro:bit by creating a short explainer video including what they have learnt about computer systems, programming and computational thinking.

Key learning:

  • To plan and create a short explainer video about micro:bit
  • To follow criteria and use criteria to evaluate
  • To review and evaluate learning
Lesson 6 details