National Software Academy opens its doors to public for family fun day

21 June 2017

Fam Jam
Families creating their coded animations

On Saturday 17 June, the National Software Academy in Newport successfully hosted Wales’ first ‘Family Jam’; an event designed to inspire the next generation of software engineers by getting families, particularly children involved in tech.

Attendees were able to get involved with a wide range of exciting workshops and presentations where they discovered how to use commonly available programming software like Scratch and Python to create interactive stories, games and animations.

Dr James Osborne, Lecturer at the National Software Academy, said: “We’re delighted to be able to welcome families to our Academy and enjoyed seeing their innovative software creations. We hope they have gained a wealth of experience from the activities that we organised for them.”

Families also had the unique opportunity to get to grips with a Sense HAT, hardware used by astronaut Tim Peake on board the International Space Station. The Sense HAT was used to measure the environment inside the space station, detect how its moving through space, and pick up the Earth’s magnetic field.

STEM ambassador Matthew Elcock, who led this workshop, said “we aimed to make every activity within the workshop as enjoyable as possible where families will be able to play with some really cool kit.  Events such as this offer fantastic opportunity for a head start on the most basic and fundamental aspects of computer science and engineering such as programming and electronics.”

The event concluded in a series of competitions for budding programmers to create software which responded to several challenges. The entries were judged on originality and effectiveness with prizes awarded to the most innovative solutions.

Dr Osborne added: “We hope, by running events like the ‘Family Jam’, we can encourage whole families to get involved with tech and inspire the next generation to consider studying and working in this field.”

Organisations from across Wales supported the event including Capgemini, Admiral, ESTNet and Pi Academy. The event was also supported by Technocamps - an outreach programme involving Welsh universities which delivers school workshops in Computer Science and Digital Literacy on topics such as game and app development, programming and robotics.

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A partnership between Cardiff University, Welsh Government and industry leaders, to address the shortfall of qualified, industry-ready software engineers, by producing graduates who aim to be leaders in their field.