NSW premier unveils coding challenge for schools

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NSW premier unveils coding challenge for schools

Ahead of "technology mandatory" curriculum.

The NSW government is launching a new coding challenge for young high school students to prepare them for - and hopefully interest them in - emerging tech-driven careers.

The Premier’s Coding Challenge, open to years 7 and 8, will present students with a series of challenges that they will work through using the ThinkerShield coding kit developed by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS).

President of the MAAS Trust Barney Glover said ThinkerShield was built to provide an engaging STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) learning experience.

He said it will be “fascinating” to see how the future generation of technologists will respond to the challenge and ThinkerShield platform.

“This challenge will not only enable students to see first-hand how computational
technology works, but also give them a sense of how innovative thinking can offer
smart solutions to real-world problems,” added NSW’s acting chief scientist Dr Chris Armstrong.

So far 50 high schools across the state will use the specialised kit to develop “professional” coding skills, said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“The workplace is changing before our eyes and this challenge will prepare students
for new industries which are emerging in innovative, high-tech sectors.

“These new industries are creating limitless career opportunities for people with the
appropriate skills and there is no better time to acquire those skills than in high school,” she added.

This is the latest in a long line of programs from state and federal governments to pique students’ interest in technology, including a $23 million cash splash earlier this month by the NSW government for primary and secondary schools to purchase robotics kits, virtual reality sets, and classroom laptops and iPads.

The state is also introducing a “technology mandatory” syllabus for years 7 and 8 from next year.

On the other side of the country, the WA government has partnered with Rio Tinto to deliver a certified course in automation skills in TAFEs and high schools.

Even the big four banks are jumping on the STEM in schools bandwagon, partnering with British Telecom, the University of Sydney and federal government to deliver cyber skills programs across Australia.

That program is supported by AustCyber, which in June brought a US cyber defence challenge to local students to hone their computer skills and instil leadership and networking abilities.

Students who compete in the Premier’s Coding Challenge, and their teachers, will receive either a bronze, silver, gold or diamond level award for their participation.

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