Public Engagement with Schools

Irina Prioteasa (supervised by Dr David Rydeheard)

 

Irina Prioteasa

The school children really enjoyed playing our game and we were pleased to discover that some of them had strong programming knowledge for their age. 

The aim of this project was to develop workshops for secondary school children, in order to attract them towards computer science.

As the time was limited, I chose to work with a fellow vacation student, Joshua Dawes and develop an activity together. We decided to build an educational game which has the purpose to enhance the programming knowledge of whoever plays it. The game was displayed as a maze and the goal was to get to the “Finish” point. In order to reach the finish, the user will need to face some obstacles which are represented by programming questions. All questions involved determining the order of the steps of some simple algorithms, so that the children can become familiar with the notion of algorithms and how they fucntion. Some of the algorithms were either determining the minimum or maximum in a list of numbers, determining the sum of the numbers of the list or to determine whether a list is ordered or not.

For the development of our game we used JavaScript, PHP, CSS and HTML and the data of our game was inserted in the database of the School. Josh and I worked really well together, often asking for each other’s feedback whenever we were adding or changing the functionality of the software. Also, we were lucky to have a work experience student around to assist us during the development of our project. He was particuarly helpful as he was closer to the age of our target audience (10-14-year old school children), especially regarding the difficulty of the questions that we used in our game.

We established a connection with a local school, who expressed their interest to attend to one of our workshop sessions. It was fantastic to have a chance to put into practice everything we have developed. The activity was a real success and the children enjoyed it. Around eight children took and in order to make everything more exciting and raise the interest of the children, we spread them into two teams and ran the workshop as a competition between them. We were really pleased to discover that some of them had particularly strong programming knowledge for their age. Overall, we received a lot of positive feedback from the children and the School expressed they would be keen to get involved in further activities from us again.

During the development of the project, David gave us his entire support by sustaining and encouraging our ideas. It was a great pleasure to work with him and I hope I will get the opportunity to be involved in more projects with him in the near future.

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