High school students create Facebook alternatives

12 January 2011

High-school students from across Australia this week presented four alternatives to Facebook in their final day at a University of Sydney summer school.

They developed social networking sites as part of the National Computer Science School (NCSS), an annual event held at the University. Functions presented on the sites included the ability for users to stay anonymous, and to collaborate on shared projects.

The summer school is run each year by Dr James Curran and Dr Tara Murphy from the University's School of Information Technologies to get school students thinking more about careers in IT and to complement a high school syllabus wanting in relevance.

"Although IT now permeates our everyday lives, it still suffers from an image problem," says Dr Curran.

"NCSS is about giving school students a peek into the opportunities and excitement the industry holds.

"We're also trying to demystify IT. While much has been made of the genius behind the likes of Facebook and Twitter, their success is partly a matter of timing.

"The principles behind these sites are something you'd learn as an undergraduate IT student."

Other challenges faced by students who attended the ten-day school included programming robots to perform a rescue and return to their starting point doing a victory dance.

Seventy three students took partin this year's NCSS. Theypresented their sites to judges, sponsors and parents on Tuesday, 11 January.

NCSS 2011 is organised by the University of Sydney and NICTA. Gold sponsors are CargoWise, ESA, Google, and Industry and Investment NSW.

Media contact: Jocelyn Prasad on 02 9114 1382 or Rachel Gleeson on 0403 067 342.