Students take on the Daleks at D5 summit

Netley Primary School students learn to code via BBC’s Doctor and the Dalek game at D5 London summit

Students from Netley Primary School, London, gathered at Digital Catapult for the BBC’s Doctor Who coding game recently, during the D5 summit.

The two-day summit brought digital governments together from the UK, South Korea, Estonia, New Zealand and Israel, to promote economic growth through open markets, improved networking capabilities and collaborating on future projects.

The five founders of D5 will sign a charter to commit to digital best practice and furthering startups and code development from an early age.

In October, Doctor Who and the Daleks joined the nationwide mission to get kids coding, through the launch of a CBBC game.

Voiced by Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi, the aim of the game – titled The Doctor and the Dalek – is to take control of the Dalek and program it to power up its ability to perform tasks, such as flying. 

The game is part of the BBC’s Make it Digital initiative which aims to inspire young people to take up careers in technology.

In September, the BBC unveiled its project Make it Digital, the broadcaster's major education project for 2015, following on from World War I in 2014.

Speaking at the summit, Kerensa Jennings, head of strategic delivery at the BBC, said Make it Digital is about building confidence and computational thinking, creating and building.

“We want to embed coding in their thinking for when they get older. We want to plant seeds that will grow and become plants, trees and forest to help plug that skill gap,” she added.

During the BBC coding session, Computer Weekly met Charlotte, aged 10, from Netley Primary School, who said she wants to be a famous dancer when she is older.

However, Charlotte told Computer Weekly that in addition to street dance she also thinks “coding is amazing” and wishes to build a game that teaches people how to dance through the use of choreography.

Jennings pointed out that the D5 summit was taking place on Ada Lovelace’s birthday, the first recognised programmer, and said she wanted “to celebrate a moment for women in coding".

The BBC is seeking partners interested in collaborating on its Make It Digital programme, as Jennings said it is aiming to “amplify what others are doing and help others to navigate the complex ecosystem.

“We believe we can help turn the dial on digital skills,” she said.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: “Ensuring that our people and businesses have world-class digital skills so they can compete in the economy of the future is a key part of our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure a brighter future for Britain.”

Speaking at the D5 event, minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: “Many of the world’s biggest and most transformative technology companies began as startups. They started with little more than a few bright individuals with the vision and determination to make their ideas happen.”

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