Cambridge Catalyst Issue 08 Web


Cambridge cracks the code You don’t have to look far to see how many career opportunities computer science can open up, given our area’s volume of highly successful tech companies, and – encouragingly – there are impressive efforts in all directions when it comes to engaging kids in the subject. The most famous example is the Raspberry Pi: the game-changing microcomputer born right here in Cambridge. With a tiny price tag to match its tiny proportions, the humble Pi became a global phenomenon, selling tens of millions of units and sparking a revolution in computer programming. The product was conceived by Eben Upton, who was at the time director of studies in computer science at St John’s College. Faced with a dearth of undergraduate students, the Pi was designed with a goal of rekindling an interest in computer science and putting digital making in the hands of as many people as possible, thereby ultimately creating a pipeline filled with more (and better) university applicants. It’s been a runaway success on all counts, used not just in classrooms and bedrooms the world over, but finding applications in libraries, laboratories and within industry – but its most positive impact, according to the company itself – has been to “encourage more people to experiment with computers once again”. Another local organisation doing its level best to nurture the next generation of digital creators is Fire Tech, where courses on offer span techy topics ranging from coding languages to artificial intelligence, virtual reality and vlogging. Over at King’s Ely, meanwhile, students are regularly encouraged to look under Computational thinking skills such as logic, abstraction and evaluation, and their associated approaches, are key life skills for the 21st century"

can discover. “Every student uses technology, so it is vital that they have a good understanding of how it works,” explains the junior school’s head of computing and digital innovation, Dan Everest. “We take computers apart to look at their physical components, as well as the software systems they use – a popular unit is when we look at the technology within smart watches.” It’s characteristic of the school’s hands-on, practical approach to computing, which also sees teachers cover digital safety via initiatives including ‘digital picnics’, at which parents and children can learn about the importance of staying safe online. Impressively, the school also hosted the first-ever regional Childnet Digital Leaders event: a youth leadership training programme empowering young people to educate their peers about online safety.

the bonnets of their computers and devices to see what they

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