Computing summer camp shows students’ aptitude for computer science

25 Jun 2012

Aisling Dempsey from Dominican College in Taylor's Hill and Enda Wright from The Bish take part in a filmmaking project at the NUI Galway Computing Summer Camp

NUI Galway’s annual Computing Summer Camp has just wrapped up and the promise shown by the 80 participants demonstrates the positive impact of initiatives like CoderDojo, and highlights the need for computer science on the secondary school curriculum.

Secondary-school students ages 13-17 came from schools across Galway City and county, as well as from far afield as Clare and Donegal, and this year saw such a high demand for places that the camp accommodated more than 80 students over the two-week period.

Throughout the camp, students participated in a number of activities, including writing computer games, creating web animations, building and programming autonomous robots, and making 3D computer models.

The camp also held a robotics competition, where students had to design and programme a robot to shoot or knock over paper aliens as quickly as possible.

Computer science for secondary schools

“We are very impressed with the high quality of students’ projects at the Computing Summer Camp this year, and the speed at which they are able to pick up new technologies,” said Dr Michael Madden, head of the information technology discipline at NUI Galway.

“It appears that recent initiatives such as CoderDojo are having a positive effect on young people’s digital literacy. The huge interest in this year’s Computing Summer Camp is mirrored by the increasing number of applications for computing degree programmes, such as the BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology at NUI Galway,” he continued.

Madden is also involved in an initiative to introduce computer science as a secondary school subject. A pilot programme for the junior cycle has been established by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and several schools will offer short courses in computer science in September 2012.

Student at Computing Summer Camp

Seán Crowley, a second-year student from Calasanctius College, Oranmore, builds a robotic car at the NUI Galway Computing Summer Camp

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.