Technology

Australian students diving into the digital deep end

©Budd Photography
The Bebras Computational Challenge runs in Australia from 4-15 March 2019. There are only 4 days left for students to complete the challenge. Get involved! ©Budd Photography

Ever thought about what your brain is doing when faced by a situation like this? It’s calculating the height you are above the water, estimating how deep the water is, calculating what sort of dive you will need, how deep (or shallow) to make it… calculation after calculation – even considering things like what will my friends say if I don’t do it and what’s an alternative way I can get down from here?

The ability to think like this and apply these skills in our day to day lives is becoming more and more important.

So how do we make sure our students develop these skills?

The Bebras Computational Thinking international challenge, hosted by CSIRO’s Digital Careers and aimed at students from year’s 3 – 12, is designed to practice problem solving skills and give students an understanding of the 21st century computational thinking skills essential for future careers.

The challenge is aligned to the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum, and Digital Careers offers free Teacher Professional Learning sessions around both Bebras and computational thinking skills.

The Challenge has been running in classrooms across Australia since Monday the 4th of March 2019 and has just entered its second and final week.

Computational thinking encompasses decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, modelling and simulation, algorithms and evaluation, all increasingly important skills for careers of the future.

Head of CSIRO Education and Outreach, Ms Mary Mulcahy, said computational thinking is used to solve problems across disciplines like maths, science, engineering and humanities, and is important in all industries.

“In the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge students use these skills to break a problem down into small parts and solve each part in an analytical way, in the same way a computer program would do,” Ms Mulcahy said.

“It’s important that we foster these skills in Australia’s students and future science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) professionals, so that they’re well prepared for the jobs of the future,” she said.

Bebras provides the first step in students achieving digital technologies outcomes, and aims to get students interested and participating in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and inspired to pursue a career in the industry.

In 2018 2,614,000 students from 45 countries participated in the free educational challenge, 43,164 of them from Australia.

Year 5-6 students made up the largest number of participants in Australia with 16,645 joining in the challenge.

Although Queensland registered the highest number of participating schools in 2018, Victoria led the student participation rate with 10,842 students getting involved.

Gender participation was equally split across all participants.

Bebras runs twice a year in schools around the country and students can complete the challenge in one 45-60 minutes sitting at any time within those periods, either individually or in small groups. All participants receive a certificate upon completion.

With a week still to go, it’s not too late to register your students. You can sign up now at https://www.bebras.edu.au/.

Next steps? Use Bebras365 (www.bebras.edu.au/bebras365) to help focus on areas of weakness, and then tackle the September challenge to position your school for future student employability.

Source: CSIRO

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