Moate CS: Cracking the Computer Science Code

Transition Year students in Moate Community School have been busy participating in many different digital endeavours over the past number of months. All students are completing the online course provided by International Academy of Computer Training (IACT), a specialist computer training company. They are participating in the “TY Programme” which consists of learning key skills and knowledge in the areas of Computers, Careers and Driving.

In January, all Transition Year students were invited to a Virtual Dreamspace event, facilitated by Microsoft. They were taken on a virtual tour of the state-of-the-art home of Microsoft, located at 1 Microsoft Place, Dublin along with interactive lessons on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and conversational debates on the use of technology in society. The Dreamspace team outlined the many careers associated with ICT and the many applications for studying Computer Science. With the current renaissance in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and growth of Data Analytics, many of the jobs that Transition Year students will be doing in the future, do not even exist yet.

After February midterm, Moate CS had seven lucky students participate in a remote online coding camp with Athlone IT. At the Code4Fun camp, students learned how to construct, code and race a mini robot. They gained experience coding the BBC micro:bit, a key element in the Leaving Certificate Computer Science syllabus. When assembling and programming the robots, students were able to bring ideas to life and really enjoyed communicating across different technology platforms and engaging with AIT lectures online.

All Transition Year students are now actively engaged with CSinc TY MOOC – Massive Open Online Course. The online course, organised by TU Dublin with the support of Microsoft and CodeClub has three modules, Python, Web Design & and the BBC micro:bit  Presently, students are learning the Web Design module where they are using HTML and CSS to design their own webpages. Hopefully, over the coming weeks students will be successful and pass all modules and certificates of completion will be issued by TU Dublin, Microsoft and CodeClub.

Moate Community School is unique in offering Computer Science as a subject for the Leaving Certificate. The Leaving Certificate course includes learning programming languages JavaScript and Python. This year’s 5th year class studied an “Introduction to Python Programming” course developed by local industry partners, Ericsson, as part of their learning. Other aspects of the course include using the micro:bit, a pocket-sized computer that introduces students to how software and hardware work together. Our Leaving Certificate students are currently using this embedded system for their course work.  During lockdown, 6th years enjoyed a virtual workshop with Keith Quille, Computer Science lecturer in Technological University Dublin and co-author of the Leaving Certificate Computer Science textbook. Our 5th year students are looking forward to a similar event with Keith and his team in April. The history of computers and societal issues are all aspects of the specification. The subject teaches skills which are highly in demand in the economy and equips students to navigate the practical and ethical challenges of an increasingly technology-driven society. Adapting to unpredictable changes are paramount to our young coders, learning innovative problem-solving skills is a key ingredient in both Computer Science and the Transition Year programme in Moate Community School.