CodePlus Graduation

Ella and the girls trying out some of the games,

Ella and the girls trying out some of the games,

Ninety secondary school girls showcased their new-found computer coding skills as they graduated from the CodePlus Programme on Thursday 7th May at Trinity College Dublin. The Bridge21 CodePlus Programme is a new pilot initiative supported by ICS Skills, which aims to interest post-primary girls in computer programming and boost the number of women engaging with the field of computer science.

CodePlus aims to help secondary school girls develop an insight into the role computers play in society and to learn some of the key skills in computing, such as programming. Since January 2015, the programme has been running coding clubs, based upon the Bridge21 model, in three girls’ secondary schools in the Dublin area.

Jade and Olivia meet the judges

Jade and Olivia meet the judges

 

The main purpose of the CodePlus Programme is to break down at least some of the barriers that tend to prevent girls from contemplating a career in computing. Exposure to computer science, in home or school environments, and encouragement from family and peers are leading factors that influence girls’ decisions to pursue careers in computer science.

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Helen playing the game her team created.

Graduates learned about ‘Computers in Society’, ‘Computational Thinking’ and ‘Computer Programming’. Working in teams, the girls solved problems, developed ideas for technical solutions to real world problems, and created animations and computer games. Some even took their first steps into web design and app development. These are areas they will get to explore as the project continues in September.

This initiative is run with support from ICS Skills and complements the Computing Curriculum courses delivered by ECDL Ireland and ICS Skills in that there is a strong emphasis on computational thinking and digital media production. The full range of activities in the coding project also aligns with the NCCA Junior Cycle short courses on Digital Media Literacy and Programming. The project integrates elements from the wide range of Bridge21 workshops run with both students and teachers such as: Digital Media, Future Tech, Contextualised Mathematics, Computational Thinking, Animation, Game Design, Computer Systems and Python.

“Programmes like CodePlus open students’ eyes to the wide range of disciplines that fall within ICT so they can make informed choices about further study and careers in Computing” said Mary Cleary, Deputy CEO, ICS Skills.  “This is particularly important for young girls who often overlook the creative aspect of many ICT-based professions. Bridge21’s problem solving and team-based approach also provides these girls with a real-world and valuable learning experience.” 

“The world we live in needs creative people to play a variety of roles in the IT sector and in every increasing areas of life which utilise IT. The world of IT is a poorer place from not having more women involved at the cutting edge. The innovative partnership between Bridge21 in TCD and ICS Skills, is making an important contribution in helping to address this issue” said Brendan Tangney, School of Computer Science & Statistics, Academic Director of Bridge21, Trinity College Dublin. 

Prof Grimson and some of the girls from Coláiste Bríde.

Prof Grimson and some of the girls from Coláiste Bríde.

Certificates were presented to students by Professor Jane Grimson who has recently retired from Trinity College following a remarkable 34-year career as an academic in the School of Computer Science and Statistics. During this time she served as Dean of Engineering, Pro-Dean of Research, and Vice-Provost of the University. As the first female Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Systems Sciences, the first female Vice-Provost (2000-04), and the first female President of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland (1999/2000), Jane paved the way for future aspirants.

Jane has been a strong champion of women generally, but in particular a committed advocate for the advancement of women in engineering, science and technology. In 2006, she was instrumental in the establishment of Trinity’s Centre for Women in Science and Engineering Research (WiSER) which works to recruit, retain and advance female academics and researchers.

We’d like to thank everyone that took part in today’s ceremony, especially Professor Grimson, and to congratulate all of the girls that completed the programme. Their work was consistently impressive and they were great to work with.

 

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