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Finite state machines and other models

Jim Green, Consett Academy


Look in any computing textbooks aimed at Key Stages 3 and 4 and you will probably find an illustration of a computer in terms of a simple Input / Process / Output model. This is very helpful for abstracting away much of the technical detail of a particular device, and is a useful starting point for children to consider what a computer does. All computers ‘compute’ but for curious children this simple model simply begs new questions. What is a computation? How might it be represented? Computer scientists have developed models that tackle these questions. Finite-state machines are one way to represent the steps involved in a particular process.

Relevant Key Stages: KS3, KS4

Session resource(s)

Jim Green's biography

Jim @jgreeupnorth is Head of Technical and Vocational at Consett Academy a 11-18 school in Durham. He leads and teaches computing from KS3-KS5 and is a CAS Master Teacher. He studied Computing at Northumbria and has a passion for his subject looking at how it can be taught to all abilities and making students successful at such an exciting subject. Jim is a Raspberry Pi Educator and runs a Code Club. He can be found at the Durham Community with coffee and biscuits along with Ben @mrbenn_82.

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