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Youngsters set to help create digital technology ; COMPUTER WORKSHOPS WITHOUT THE COMPUTERS [Western Mail (Wales)]
[September 19, 2013]

Youngsters set to help create digital technology ; COMPUTER WORKSHOPS WITHOUT THE COMPUTERS [Western Mail (Wales)]

(Western Mail (Wales) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) PRIMARY-SCHOOL pupils in Wales are set to become creators, not just consumers of digital technologies as part of an exciting new university project.

Pupils from Casllwchwr Primary School in Swansea were the first to take part in "Playground Computing" and a series of hands-on computer science workshops, all without the use of a computer.

A new primary programme, it results from the successful Technocamps project based at Swansea University and is supported by the Digital Makers Fund - a fund backed by technology specialists Nesta, Nominet Trust and Mozilla.

RT The project, which will run across South Wales, focuses on three topics - hardware, data and programming - and teaches young pupils conceptual computer science principles through a variety of activities, tasks and games in a fun way.

It provides an "unplugged" version of teaching computer science that detaches pupils from the idea that computing involves using a computer as a tool. The free, lively workshops drive home the message that computer science is about technological thinking and understanding and looking into how and why computers work.

Professor Faron Moller, of Swansea University, said: "This project provides a perfect platform for younger pupils to start thinking about computer science as it will offer a fantastic opportunity for them to develop their computer science skills.

"This will inevitably ease the transition process of Key Stage 3 pupils into secondary education and will prove valuable for pupils since, as of this year, computer science has been introduced into the secondary curriculum. This project will give them the head start they deserve.

"Our aim is to plant the seeds of computer science into the next generation and inspire the digital makers of the future. We want to enthuse and encourage young people to be creators and not just consumers of technology." The Technocamps initiative has proven to be very popular with both teachers and students in secondary schools across Wales and, as a result, is now expanding the services it offers to younger generations.

Due to an overwhelming demand for primary support, Technocamps secured funding from the Digital Makers Fund to deliver the Playground Computing programme to young people across South Wales.

Simon Pridham is executive headteacher of Casllwchwr Primary School and manager of the Life (Lifelong Intergenerational Furthering Education) programme, which uses technology to transform education and skills for young people at Swansea schools.

He said: "This collaboration with Technocamps is vitally important in engaging primary school pupils with computer science. The programme will also act as a pathway for the next Life academy cohort, which will take place summer term 2014." Amy Solder, of Nesta, an independent charity that works to increase innovation, said: "Together with Nominet Trust and Mozilla, Nesta created the Digital Makers Fund to help more young people create rather than simply use digital technologies.

"We're delighted to be supporting Technocamps in achieving this by extending their offer into primary schools in Wales. We believe there's a big potential pay-off to be won from greater digital confidence and skill; not just for the young people themselves but also for our ever more digital economy." While pupils will not be using computers in class, they will be able to follow up their Playground Computing activities by using technology.

Next month, teachers and pupils from across South Wales will be invited to an event that will provide hands-on taster sessions showcasing what the Playground Computing project can offer schools. For more information on Playground Computing and to find out how your school can sign up to the project, call Bethan Evans, primary pupil delivery officer on 07718 250 828 or email bethan.evans@technocamps.

com. Alternatively, visit www.playgroundcomputing.

com (c) 2013 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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