Teaching Object-Oriented Programming in Secondary Schools Using Swarm Robotics

Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 946)


The recent inclusion of computer science in the British secondary school education system has resulted in existing teaching staff who are not able to effectively deliver the curriculum. Existing environments—such as Greenfoot—help substantially but anecdotal evidence suggests that many pupils still struggle with some aspects of the computer science curriculum. This paper presents a workshop for teaching pupils about method calls in object-oriented programming, using swarm robotics and the firefly synchronisation algorithm as inspiration.


Teaching object-oriented programming Swarm robotics Greenfoot Firefly synchronisation algorithm 


  1. 1.
    Beni, G., Wang, J.: Swarm intelligence in cellular robotic systems. In: Robots and Biological Systems: Towards a New Bionics? NATO ASI Series, vol. 102, pp. 703–712. Springer, Heidelberg (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brown, N.C.C., Sentance, S., Crick, T., Humphreys, S.: Restart: the resurgence of computer science in UK schools. Trans. Comput. Educ. 14(2), 9:1–9:22 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Buck, J.B.: Synchronous rhythmic flashing of fireflies. Q. Rev. Biol. 13(3), 301–314 (1938)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Crick, T., Moller, F.: A national engagement model for developing computer science education in wales. In: Proceedings of ISSEP 2016 (2016)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Donaldson, G.: Successful Futures: Independent Review of Curriculum and Assessment Arrangements in Wales (2015)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dorigo, M., Maniezzo, V., Colorni, A.: Ant system: optimization by a colony of cooperating agents. IEEE Trans. Syst. Man Cybern. Part B Cybern. 26(1), 29–41 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kölling, M.: The greenfoot programming environment. Trans. Comput. Educ. 10(4), 14:1–14:21 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Millonas, M.M.: Swarms, phase transitions, and collective intelligence. In: Langton, C.G. (ed.) Artificial Life III, pp. 417–445. Addison-Wesley, Boston (1993)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mirollo, R., Strogatz, S.: Synchronization of pulse-coupled biological oscillators. SIAM J. Appl. Math. 50(6), 1645–1662 (1990)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Şahin, E.: Swarm robotics: from sources of inspiration to domains of application. In: Şahin, E., Spears, W. (eds.) Swarm Robotics. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 3342, pp. 10–20. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Stovold, J., O’Keefe, S., Timmis, J.: Preserving swarm identity over time. In: Sayama, H., Rieffel, J., Risi, S., Doursat, R., Lipson, H. (eds.) Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFE 2014), pp. 728–735 (2014)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Tyrrell, A., Auer, G., Bettstetter, C.: Firefly synchronization in ad-hoc networks. In: Proceedings of the MiNEMA Workshop (2006)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Welsh Government: Education in Wales: Our national mission. Action plan 2017–21 (2017)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Welsh Joint Education Committee: WJEC GCSE in Computer Science-Specification 2017–2019 (2016)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK
  2. 2.TechnocampsSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

Personalised recommendations