Getting school children excited about learning IT

The inadequacy of IT teaching in schools has been widely blamed for the lack of young people pursuing a career in technology. The curriculum has been described as dull and boring, and even universities and science minister David Willetts has called IT education “catastrophic.”

Sue Black, an IT academic and campaigner whose recent experience includes leading the drive to save Bletchley Park, the home of the World War 2 codebreakers, set out to prove that children can be excited by IT.

Black, founder of The <go to> Foundation, a non-profit organisation established to promote technology as a vital part of our society and economy, teamed up with IT trade body Intellect, to spend a day with 7-to-9-year old children at St Matthew's School in Surbiton, London, to teach them programming and some of the basics of IT.

The classes used tools such as the Raspberry Pi – a low-cost, stripped down computer designed for teaching in the way the BBC Micro was in the 1980s – and Scratch, a simple programming language designed for education.

“The idea was simple. Inspire kids about computer science. Get them interacting with hardware, software and app design. So that's what we did,” said Black.

This video documents some of the highlights of the day, and demonstrates the enthusiasm that children can have for learning about technology, if it is taught well.

“We really wanted to prove that young kids can do computer science and not only can they do it, they love it. We were right,” said Black.

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