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New year, new challenges for computer scientists

Posted: 21 September 2017

Computer science students at West Nottinghamshire College have been getting their competitive heads on during the new term inductions.

During a three-day induction period (13-15 September) groups of year 1 and 2 Level 3 students got to grips with a Crystal Maze-style competition, a seven-stage computer-based skills test and a community charity challenge.

Teams were named after famous people from the computing and science industries such as Grace Hopper, Mark Zuckerberg, Katherine Johnson and Charles Flint. They competed over the three days to gain as many crystals as possible.

For the first two days of the competition students were put into mixed teams and introduced to the challenges.

Year 2 students trained and mentored new learners in the skills needed to complete each challenge, which required them to develop and fine-tune skills in cable-making, fault-finding and repairs to PCs, as well as working on binary maths tests, programming and graphics and speed-building a PC.

They competed against each other in the challenges, where double crystals were awarded for any year one entrant. The overall winning group was the ‘Charles Flint’ group – named after the founder of IBM.

The final day’s challenge asked groups to think about a charity in the local community which they could help raise awareness of.

Team ‘Katherine Johnson’, named after the NASA physicist and mathematician, won with their idea to help promote a Mansfield and Ashfield-based charity called the Aspire and Achieve Foundation.

This charity reaches out to disadvantaged young people aged 16 to 24 to provide support they need overcome or manage their problems and take positive steps towards finding work.

The team drew up a plan to create promotional leaflets, organise taster events for people to come and get to know the charity, boost their presence on social media and use their computer science skills to offer sessions for young people to learn the different aspects of a computer.

Computer science curriculum manager Trudi Dean said: “The induction process was certainly a lively, productive and awe-inspiring few days!

“All of our students put top efforts into the challenges and displayed real professionalism and team spirit. It was brilliant to see them working with their peers to share and develop skills whilst also having fun.

“The computer tests were a great skills developer, which will be particularly beneficial for their future employment and will also support their entry to regional and national skills challenges.”

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