2013 Scratch competition open to young programmers

17 Dec 2012

Students Megan Cleary, Eoin Brennan, Sinead Cummins and Maeve O'Gorman from St Ailbe's Secondary School in Co Tipperary with Jim Friars, CEO, Irish Computer Society; Education Minister Ruiari Quinn, TD; and Clare McInerney from Lero

Aspiring young software developers can now enter the 2013 Scratch competition that aims to get primary and secondary school students involved in software development by using the Scratch programming language.

Scratch was developed at MIT Media Lab as a free software tool to help students create games, animations and stories for the web.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, TD, launched the Irish Computer Society’s (ICS) 2013 Scratch competition along with students from St Ailbe’s Secondary School in Co Tipperary.

The ICS Scratch Competition is sponsored by Lero – the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, and supported by IT Tallaght and IT Sligo. The competition aims to give students an understanding of how software is built and how it works.

Another aim of the competition is to give students a glimpse of possible future careers in the software development sector.

Jim Friars, CEO of the ICS, said Lero and the society have worked closely for years so that students of all ages can gain 21st-century IT skills.

“Over the past number of years the IT field is one of the few to experience employment growth and as time progresses technology will play an even more important role in everyday life.  

“Scratch gives students practical experience of the skills required for this diverse and growing profession,” he said.

Lero has developed free Scratch teaching materials for primary and secondary school teachers. At primary level, Scratch is now being taught in more than 700 classrooms.

Lero’s education and outreach officer Clare McInerney said this is the fourth year of the Irish Scratch competition. She said the entries continue to get more impressive every year as more students use Scratch to develop their interest in technology.

“Scratch allows students to develop creative and critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills as they work collaboratively or individually on Scratch projects,” added McInerney.

Teachers can register their interest in the competition online via the ICS. Projects by students must be submitted by 22 March 2013, with the finals being held in May.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic