Computer programming and coding are integral to many careers, and these skills will be key to this generation of school children's future success.

To help inspire and spark an interest in coding in primary school children, as well as support teachers to develop these key skills, Canterbury Christ Church University and The STEM Hub, in partnership with STEM Ambassador Hub East Midlands, the University of Northampton, and The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, have launched the Young Coders Competition 2021.

The competition, which is running throughout the UK, will provide resources for teachers, including 12 weeks of lesson planning for absolute beginners of a shorter six week version for those who already have a little experience with using Scratch software. These resources can be used as part of the school’s Computing curriculum, as part of an extracurricular club or can be used by a parent or guardian with their child at home.

The competition is asking children to design a computer game, using Scratch, on the theme of Keeping Yourself and Others Safe. The computer game should be used to teach their peers about risk, safety and responsibility. Examples could be how to keep yourself and others from catching coronavirus, safety in or outside the home or how to stay safe online. Games submitted will then be judged by a panel, which will include the children who are previous winners of the Young Coders Competition.

One of the founders of the competition and Director of Computing at Canterbury Christ Church University, Dr Scott Turner, said: “Our aim is that the competition will get primary school children interested in programming and STEM from an early age, as well as help teachers to deliver inspiring programming lessons. Even if teachers have little experience in coding, we have planned the resources so that they and their classes can learn alongside each other.

“Essential skills can be learnt through programming, such as teamwork, communication, and especially computational thinking – learning how to identify and understand problems, find solutions and developing resilience to working things through. Coding is the best way to develop and practice these skills.

“Coding underpins many areas of our lives, and not just the obvious. You see its influence especially in our hospitals with new medical technology, in engineering, and the internet of things. The skills coding can teach us we can carry to many other areas of our lives, as well as our chosen careers. We hope that the Young Coders Competition will spark a passion for programming and STEM inside the children which will stay with them as they get older and help to open up endless opportunities for their futures.”

Find out more information and register interest in the competition here.

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