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Computer Science department launches creative coding contest

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Computer Science department launches creative coding contest

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Aberystwyth University’s Computer Science Department is calling on primary school pupils across Wales to take part in a unique coding competition combining poetry, Welsh mythology and creative computing.

The challenge to children aged 7-11 years old includes animating a poem by Eurig Salisbury, a lecturer at Aberystwyth University’s Department of Welsh & Celtic Studes as well as an award-winning writer and former Children’s Welsh Poet Laureate.

Alternatively, contestants can also choose to animate a Welsh myth or legend – from the Mabinogion, for example.

There will be prizes for the winning teams as well as a visit to the winning entry’s school by a team of computer scientists from Aberystwyth University who will hold a day of educational coding activities.

The aim of the competition is to encourage children to give coding a go and to learn new skills for the workplace of the future.

Organiser Dr Hannah Dee, Senior Lecturer at Aberystwyth University’s Computer Science Department, said: “Coding is a digital skill which will only increase in importance. People often think that coding is just spreadsheets or numbers. This contest aims to show that it’s much than that – you can code pictures, animations, and even poetry. Creative coding is something everyone can have a go at, particularly using Scratch, a kids’ programming language.

“We have four top prizes this year with winners awarded either a Pi-top Laptop or Kano Computer Kit or and we are grateful to both companies for their sponsorship and support.”

Fellow organiser and lecturer Martin Nelmes said: “As a Department, we visit schools the length and breadth of Wales with our coding activities and find that creative coding like this really fires students’ imagination. We held our first coding competition last year and the entries were inspirational. I can’t wait to see what pupils come up with this year.”

First prize in last year’s competition went to Johnstown School in Carmarthenshire, with second place going to Ysgol Gynradd Pentrefoelas in Betws y Coed in Gwynedd, and third to Brynnau School, Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

Eurig Salisbury, a lecturer in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University’s Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies, said: “It was a privilege to be part of this coding competition last year and to see young children take up the challenge of creative computing to illustrate one of my poems. It’s a fun activity but it’s also educational with coding becoming an increasingly fundamental skill to those growing up in the early part of the 21stcentury.”

Further details about the competition and how to enter can be found on the website of the Department of Computer Science: www.aber.ac.uk/en/cs/outreach/schools.

The competition was launched at a special coding session at Ysgol Plascrug Aberystwyth on Tuesday 17 April 2018.

The closing date for entries is 31 July 2018 and the winners will be announced in September 2018.

Photo:  Left to right: Ysgol Plascrug pupils (seated) Tomas Pearson, Erin Jack, Ifan Rukov and James Homer at the launch of the Scratch animation competition with Plascrug teacher Carol Macy, and Eurig Salisbury and Martin Nelmes from Aberystwyth University.

Competition Details: www.aber.ac.uk/en/cs/outreach/schools
Department of Computer Science: www.aber.ac.uk/en/cs
Department of Welsh & Celtic Studies: www.aber.ac.uk/en/cymraeg

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