Four Days of Computer Science

In just four days at Bridge21, teams of Transition Year students from schools all over Ireland (who had never met each other before) developed enviable computer programming skills through collaboration, hard work and a lot of fun.

Every year,  we run a series of Computer Science workshops in partnership with the School of Computer Science and Statistics at TCD. The first two workshops took place at the end of January, with an attendance of almost 50 young Computer Science enthusiasts over the course of two weeks.

Programming Lego robots to complete an ever (subtly) changing obstacle course was the first challenge, followed by learning about algorithms and using them to create some fantastic animations and games in Scratch.  Of course learning to program wasn’t the only thing the students needed to learn, as working in teams can sometimes be hard.  A lot of time was spent over the four days on team building challenges and activities, so that the students had a chance to develop their skills in collaboration and peer-learning. Not only did we brainstorm some crazy uses for oranges but paperclips got a mention too and we even managed to fit 24 TY students through one piece of A4 piece of paper … all at once (see evidence below)!

The team pods at Oriel House were hives of activity throughout the workshops, with members of each team contributing to the development of some fantastic projects.  The enthusiasm and creativity of the students throughout the two weeks felt almost unstoppable.  We were very impressed to see some teams even arriving early each morning so they could discuss ideas and share skills which they thought would benefit their team and projects.

The end result was some very  impressive and creative computer games.  There were adaptations of classics such as Pac-man, which was developed into a 2-player Angry Birds version, as well as the more recent iCopter game.  2-player Pong was even adapted into a very challenging 2-player and four-paddle version.  Projects integrated current news stories, Lego robots and oranges, with collecting, bouncing, catching, avoiding, and shooting to obtain high-scores.  It was clear from the interest of other teams that the games would be a hit if available online so why not try them out for yourself on the Bridge21 page on the Scratch website.

“Thank you very much for providing me with the opportunity to attend this workshop. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I have created so many good memories that I can never forget. This workshop also helped me realize who I am, what are my skills and potentials.” (TY student)

The students seemed to thoroughly enjoy their time at Bridge21 and their first taste of what Computer Science might be like at third level. We hope it isn’t the last we see or hear of these tech enthusiasts!

– Written by Carina Girvan, Workshop Lead Faciliatator

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