There is Life in Mars (as a topic in Year 6)

bbc news

I just want to mention some of the ideas and things I have been putting into place for this terms ICT. We have had the over arching theme of a Visit to Mars. Here are some ideas/ lessons that have worked and/or currently working on.

  1. Exploring the surface of Mars via Google Earth – did you know you could do this – see the video below. Once you have explored the planet then why not create a virtual tour .

2. Create your own prototype of an app that an explorer of the planet might need.  We used the POP prototyping app for this and a good deal of pens, paper and felts.

3 Kodu – we did  (and indeed we still doing) so much with this amazing program. We learned the functions from the bottom up. We created vast landscapes and used the simple if then do programming to create games. We then played some of the Mars based games, involving the Curiosity Rover and we saw at first(ish) hand what it was like to scan rocks and seek out those with greater scientific importance. I can not recommend Kodu highly enough for Year 6 – it is visual programming but with added cries of “sick” from the class!

4 Pages – we downloaded blank Xbox templates and used these as a canvas to create our own game box inserts.


This allowed us to look at a hybrid of persuasive and informative language  Pages can also be a bit of a pleasing challenge too, so it took some time for the class to figure our how and where to format everything. They are still working on these, but here is one of the front covers.

5 Creating our own 3D Martian Monsters. I have mentioned this in a previous blog post, but here is the video again and my first attempt at a green man from the red planet.

bbc news

6 Creating a custom newspage / Hacking BBC News – well not really hacking more remixing. Once we have created the 3D monsters, we plan to upload them to a class blog, that way each monster will be online with a custom image url. Keeping this in mind we can then use the wonderful Hackasurus to remix the BBC News page into a story about Life found on Mars. The tool allows you to substitute the url of an embedded picture with your own, so I swapped Cameron for an alien and played with some text and voilà a customised BBC  web page. The finished pages do look pretty convincing and along the way children will have learned some html and got that empowering feeling of having built or at least hacked something of their own through code. And what’s more once you have finished playing you can publish the site and share it with others too.

Hackasurus is a tool that lets you change elements of a website by replacing existing text and graphics with your own. It was something that Doug Belshaw from Mozilla showed me and others at the NAACE Hot House event last year. It was also famously shown at Teachmeet Bett when he “hacked” the DFE website.  There is a video on the theory of it below, I have not included a how to vid  as the tool is pretty self explanatory once you get started with it.Fast Forward to around 10 minutes in for a demo.


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