University summer school teaches students to code like a Ninja

3 January 2015

A University of Sydney national summer school created to provide a fresh environment for bright young high school students wanting to learn about computer-programming will celebrate its twentieth anniversary this week with predictions it will grow even stronger.

The national computer summer school (NCSS), the brainchild of two University of Sydney information technologies specialists, Professor Judy Kay and Dr Bob Kummerfield, has attracted literally thousands of students over the past two decades. Professor Kay says the school has given young female students in particular an opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of computer science, learn how to write or improve their programming skills for software design and development.

"Initially our aim was to attract students into considering a career choice offered by studying ICT related subjects at university," Professor Kay said.

"Many of our graduates have gone on to work with tech giants such as Google, Atlassian and IBM.

"Over the years students have told us that the NCSS gave them a completely new experience, was a lot of fun, even when they were spending a slab of their summer holidays in really intensive learning about programming."

Since its inception NCSS has increased its scope and reach now includes two other programs: The NCSS Challenge a 5 week online programming competition for secondary school students held in annually in August; and The Girls' Programming Network (GPN) a program developed and run by girls and for girls. GPN is managed by female IT students mainly from the University of Sydney. Professor David Lowe, Associate Dean (Education) in the School of Information Technologies, predicts an even bigger future for the computer-programming outreach programs.

"In the next few years as the new Australian Curriculum is adopted, Digital Technologies will be implemented by every primary and high school in Australia" Professor Lowe said.

"This will see students from Years 3 to 8 being required to learn to code in school, which will be a massive step forward.

"We can see the NCSS Challenge, our online programming competition, becoming even more widely adopted, with many thousands of students participating around the country. Who knows what Year 12 students will be capable of doing during the NCSS summer school - the sky is really the limit!

"We do know that we'll be able to do much more sophisticated and complex projects because the students will know so much more before they arrive.

"I can't wait to see what we could do then."

If you learn to code you can:

  • Design a program that tells a computer what to do!
  • Make your own a personal website from 'Scratch'
  • Develop mobile device apps such as Monument which has been downloaded by millions
  • Create your own online games like award winning Destiny or Bayonetta 2
  • Build a functioning robotic with coding

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