UEL hosts hundreds of pupils for day of computer coding
UEL lecturers want to make computing more accessible and ‘fun’ for young children
The secret life of laptops and tablets was revealed to a group of east London school children at the University of East London (UEL), thanks to a special day dedicated to computer coding.
The Hour of Code day, celebrated globally, was brought to UEL by Gaurav Malik from the School of Architecture, Computing, and Engineering (ACE). It is the first time UEL has hosted such an event.
“We saw that coding was becoming popular in the media, there was a lot of buzz, and we are close to east London’s tech city and surrounded by lots of schools, so we thought we could bring it all together,” explained Mr Malik.
Nearly 200 pupils and teachers from east London’s Chisenhale Primary School, Gallions Primary School, Grazebrook Primary School, Woodberry Down Primary School, Oasis Academy Silvertown, Shacklewell Primary School, and Oasis Silver Town participated in the session, held in UEL’s state-of-the-art ITC suites.
Mr Malik explained that the event was about children having fun but that there was also a serious side to it.
“A lot of people are not studying STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], so giving them an opportunity shows it is not such a ‘black art’ as people think it is,” he said.
“Hour of Code makes computing accessible. Children have more computing devices at home than ever before, so this helps them relate what they have and how it works.”
Neill Melville, assistant head teacher of Woodberry Down Primary School, was impressed with the day’s activities.
“We’ve brought our Year 6 student council members here, so it will help with peer to peer promotion and spreading the word about our coding activities in the school,” he said.
The UK is the first G7 country to introduce compulsory computer science to the school curriculum for students aged five to 16.
Year 6 pupil Aidan Leyton, of Grazebrook Primary School, said, “The session’s been fun, putting code to character and directing it to a goal. I go to a coding club at school which has helped.”
Drs Claudia Iacob and Julie Wall, Mr Mike Kretsis, and students from the Computer Science and Informatics subject area were also on hand to guide pupils.
Gabriela Balachandran, a final-year Computing for Business student who plans to teach computing in South America, said, “It’s a good way to let young children know how the programming world works and how easy it is to get into it. Using a game is the best way of showing how it all works.”
“There was never anything like this when I was at school, and now computing can be done everywhere in the world, it’s modern, and everything involves computing.”