Computer programming competition a hit with school girls
02 December 2011
UC's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering hosted a computer programming competition for Year 10 girls from local high schools recently.
UC’s Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering hosted a computer programming competition for Year 10 girls from local high schools recently.
The Programming Challenge for Girls (PC4G) is in its third year in New Zealand. This year PC4G at UC attracted 40 students from five local schools, along with their teachers.
Competitions were also being held at six other tertiary institutions around New Zealand, concurrently to the one at UC. The competition is also being run internationally at universities in Brisbane, Australia and Waterloo, Canada. The goal of the programme is to give girls a chance to get some experience with computer programming at a young age.
The PC4G challenge is run specifically for Year 10 girls to introduce them to computer programming using Alice as a programming language. Alice is a popular teaching tool for introductory computing and is particularly good for giving a taste of programming in a short time. It’s an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. It uses 3D graphics and a drag-and-drop interface to facilitate an engaging programming experience for first-time users.
Professor Tim Bell (Computer Science and Software Engineering), who organised this year’s Christchurch competition, said it was “great to see so many students attending and enjoying getting a taste of programming and computer science”.
"Many girls assume that programming is something they wouldn't enjoy and are surprised at the opportunities available. It is particularly valuable for them to meet role models as the event was organised by the 'Computer Chicks' club and teh leaders were female students, staff and graduates of the department," said Professor Bell.
The competition was run by Michal Connole, a recent Computer Science graduate, who led the teaching along with support from department staff Atefeh Ahmadi, Saima Ali and Amali Weerasinghe, who helped organise the event. Michal is a Computer Chicks founding member and current employee of Telogis.
The students and teachers were also treated to a CS Unplugged workshop as part of the challenge, looking at the kinds of problems that programmers need to tackle.
Prizes were given out to the top teams, with Courtney Bremner (Burnside High School) and Brittany McColy (Ashburton College) both winning gold medals. Gold medal winners now get a chance to attend a summer camp being held at Victoria University (Wellington) in January.
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