Working Group Remit
To work on specific projects aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of Computer Science in schools. The level of CS teaching in schools is widely understood to be woefully inadequate, and several organisations (e.g. CAS Scotland) are attempting to address the problems this creates. This WG works alongside such organisations and utilise the advantages of the YAS to contribute to this work.
Our primary objective is to promote the idea of computer science as an interesting and fun subject that can provide enormous educational benefits and career potential to young people. We aim to influence:
- young people, to create enthusiasm for the subject, and to give them aspirations of where CS might lead them;
- parents, schools and local authorities, to convince them of the advantages to young people of having CS qualifications, and to help them understand why even children who are already expert in technology use still need CS education in order to be able to create the technology of the future.
Our main activity is running the First Lego League in Scotland in conjunction with Lambda Jam. This is an international robotics competition for children aged 9-16. They receive the missions for the year's competition at the end of August and have until the competitions in December and January to design and build a Lego Mindstorm robot and program it to autonomously attempt as many of the missions as possible. In the 2016/7 season, we:
- Ran 3 tournaments across Scotland, in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.
- Saw almost 500 children participating in 50 teams.
- Included one refugee team led by a YAS At-Risk Academic and Refugee member.
- 4 Scottish teams went to the UK finals, 3 winning cups and 2 going on to further competitions.
- Increased engagement with robotics to 1000 children in Scotland, as a result of the commitment of our teams on full bursaries to provide full class teaching, and the CPD and support we give them to do that.
- Increased our Engineer Mentor Network, sending volunteer engineers into most teams to support their work and to enthuse them about a career in engineering.
Our key sponsors are the IET and Skills Development Scotland.
We see efforts such as this as a key way to enthuse children, schools and parents and the potential in engineering and technical careers, which is an important step towards closing the huge skills gap in these areas.
Fiona McNeill, Heriot-Watt University, email@example.com