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Coding for Kids Summer School

25 January 2017
10 days of coding challenges and 1 epic ‘all-nighter’

130 high school students and teachers from across Australia took part in this year’s National Computer Science School (NCSS) Summer School.

NCSS Summer School brings together talented young people for an intensive course of computer programming and website development at the University of Sydney’s School of Information Technologies.

Students were split into two streams – web development and embedded systems – working throughout the program towards an end project.

The web projects developed were creative, clever and innovative, and included Tick It (a bucket list sharing website), Find It! (a website that uses crowdsourcing to find out where to purchase products) and Draw.this (a site to commission drawings, like Uber for artists).

Dylan from John Monash Science School in Victoria worked on Find It! and loved the experience. “We brainstormed lots of ideas and then voted on the best one to tackle. We divided tasks based on people’s skills and interests between the front-end and back-end development teams, and the database and template engine team, who created a system to help the teams communicate.”

The team that worked on embedded systems spent the last night competing in a ‘Robo-Olympics’, a test of the fittest robot invention. In various challenges, teams did sit-ups to propel a toy car, used robots to arm wrestle opponents and measured accuracy through a ball-throwing competition. “Our game tested hand-eye coordination using code we had developed,” said Alice from Kardinia International College.

“I hadn’t done much programming before NCSS, but now I love it!” said Alice. “I learnt about coding so much faster during NCSS than I could ever accomplish by myself.”

To continue the programmer’s tradition of the ‘all-nighter’ the last day of the school ran for over 20 hours as students put the finishing touches on their projects. The lack of sleep was all worth it for the glory of presenting their final creations to the rest of the NCSS team, sponsors and their families.

Senior Tutor and University of Sydney PhD alumna, Nicky Ringland believes NCSS is a life-changing experience. “It's fantastic to see students who might (otherwise) be the only person in their school interested in computers connect with other students, tutors and industry professionals.”

“Students from across Australia get the chance to ‘geek out’ together, share their passions, get excited about learning and forge friendships that will last a lifetime. It’s a pretty rare opportunity,” she said.