CodePlus Graduation 2016

CodePlus Graduation
Three hundred and fifty secondary school girls showcase the computer coding skills they have recently learned to solve real-world problems, create computer games and develop apps before they graduate from the CodePlus Programme at a special event at Trinity College Dublin on the 6th May.

The Bridge21 CodePlus Programme is pilot initiative supported by ICS Foundation, the charitable outreach body of the Irish Computer Society, which aims to interest post-primary girls in computer programming and boost the number of women engaging with the field of computer science.

CodePlus Graduation

CodePlus hopes 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 including programming. Since January 2015, the programme has been running coding clubs, based upon the Bridge21 model for collaborative learning, in eleven girls’ secondary schools in the Dublin area and in Bridge21’s purpose-built education lab in Trinity College.

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.

Game demos at the CodePlus graduation

Game demos at the CodePlus graduation

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.

This initiative is run with support from ICS Foundation and complements the Computing Curriculum initiatives of ECDL Ireland and ICS Foundation in that there is a strong emphasis on computational thinking and digital media production. It also contributes to the impact of Tech Week, the annual national STEM festival run by the ICS Foundation.

The full range of activities in the coding project also aligns with the NCCA Junior Cycle short courses on Digital Media Literacy and Programming.

Students from Mount Anville testing out their games.

Students from Mount Anville testing their games.

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.

Professor in Computer Science and Academic Director of Bridge21 at Trinity, Brendan Tangney, said: “The world we live in needs creative people to play a variety of roles in the IT sector and in the ever 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 and ICS Skills is making an important contribution in helping to address this issue.”

A Colaiste Bride student receives her CodePlus cert from Mary Cleary.

Deputy CEO of ICS and ICS Foundation, Mary Cleary, added: “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, which is also a key objective of Tech Week. This is particularly important for young girls who often overlook the creative aspect of many ICT-based professions.   Bridge 21’s problem solving and team based approach also provides these young girls with a real-world and valuable learning experience.”

Certificates were presented to students by Mary Cleary, who has championed the involvement of ICS Foundation in the CodePlus programme. Mary has a strong background in education with over 14 years teaching. She now specialises in ICT in education for students and teachers, developing national curricula for integrating ICT into primary and secondary education.

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