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Cracking the code: Inspiring Wales’ digital future

24 May 2019

Students and staff from the School of Computer Science and Informatics have been volunteering their time and expertise to help make Newport the digital skills capital of Wales.

On 24 May, teams from three primary schools in the Llanwern cluster met for the Cracking the Code celebration. Attendees included Always Primary and Eveswell Primary and was held in Milton Primary School in Newport.

The event was an opportunity for youngsters aged between 8 and 10, who have been learning to write computer code, to show off their new skills. Learners were put in mixed teams for the day to build on their digital abilities together as a cluster, make new friends and have some fun along the way.

Sian Roche, a teacher in Milton Primary, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity for the children who were curious, engaged and excited throughout the whole day. Cardiff University's STEM Ambassadors were confident, supportive and enthusiastic in answering any questions, and I couldn’t have done it without them”.

A Computer Science student and STEM Ambassador from Cardiff University added: “It was heart-warming to see the children so enthusiastic about all the different activities”.

For months before the event, students from five schools in the area have been attending an after-school Coding Club, which has allowed them to access equipment, learn new skills and apply these in the different activities. Students from the School of Computer Science and Informatics attended and ran the clubs, helped out by Richard Sheppard of Interceptor Solutions and Simon Renault.

Building on work and learning at the Coding Club, the primary school pupils completed a series of coding sessions and a workshop at the Cracking the Code event.

Firstly, a Scratch challenge whereby pupils had to gather points by cracking a series of coding challenges. Next was a Lego Wedo challenge where the pupils built a car and programmed it to stop. Lastly, they took part in a new skill workshop developing abilities with BBC MicroBits.

Cracking the code is part of the Welsh Government’s plan to support the roll-out of digital competence in Welsh schools. The initiative aims to increase awareness of computer science and encourage more participation and experience by young people in coding activities.

Due to the success of this cluster approach to coding, the School of Computer Science & Informatics plan to continue supporting the primary schools with the next event which will be held  in Cardiff University's National Software Academy in Newport.

If schools are interested in hosting their own cluster coding project and celebration event, or any further information, please contact Cheryl McNamee-Brittain.

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