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Padstow North and Caringbah North Winners of Top Coder

Twenty-four young coders converged on the home of applied science at the Lucas Heights campus yesterday to compete for the title of 2017 ANSTO Top Coder.

Padstow North Public School’s Adriana Olivera and Nikhil Warrier won the Year 5 division, while Cate Chapman and India Magee from Caringbah North Public School took the Year 6 title.

Using the coding language, Scratch, to create something out of nothing, students from more than 41 34 schools across Sydney have taken on ANSTO Top Coder challenge during seven preliminary heats.

In the Grand Final, it was the top 12 teams of Year 5 and 6 students who responded to the theme of ‘Clean Oceans’ to demonstrate who is the coding champion.

Michael, one of the teachers who took part in the event, said that ANSTO Top Coder taught the students a skill essential for their future.

“It’s really important that students learn coding – it gives them a broad range of computational thinking skills to tackle problems, and persevere to completion,” Michael said.

Phillip, a Year 6 student said that he hadn’t been coding for long, but that their teacher started a school coding club after they won the ANSTO Top Coder round earlier this year.

Cate was part of the winning Year 6 team, and she explained how their game tackled the theme.

“We made a game where you have to free marine animals from garbage that has trapped them. Some animals are tangled in fishing line or old plastic bags or covered in oil,” Cate said.

One of the other students who participated said that he enjoyed the Grand Final challenge of making games, and that in the future he wanted to make apps for people to use that will make their lives easier.

Nathan Slawitschka, Education Officer at ANSTO, said they ANSTO was are always excited to offer students new opportunities to engage with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“What we are seeing is that coding is an interactive way for these young students to develop their skills,” Slawitschka said.

“In creating games, animations, art, music or stories, students are using their imaginations and problem-solving skills while developing technical STEM skills and digital literacy that will set them up for success.”

Slawitschka said that this is the second year of ANSTO Top Coder, which was developed in collaboration with local public schools Caringbah and Sutherland North and off the back of ANSTO’s successful school holiday coding programs, which introduces students to coding.

“We also knew of the growing popularity of Coding Clubs, and the ANSTO Top Coder competition gives students the opportunity to test their skills against their peers from different schools,” he said.

“The process of writing code involves not just the technical skills, but it also asks students to be creative in designing their program and working through any bugs that emerge along the way.

“We’re really impressed with the strength of competition and with the attention to detail from all teams.

“Our winners displayed excellence in all areas, in their project design, linking to the syllabus and theme, programming and debugging their creations, and planning and team collaboration – so a big congratulations to Adriana, Nikhil, Cate and India for their work.”

Schools that competed in the Year 5 division came from Heathcote East Public School, Maroubra Bay Public School, Padstow North Public School, Peakhurst Public School and Sutherland North Public School.

Schools that competed in the Year 6 division came from Balmain Public School, Baulkham Hills North Public School, Caringbah North Public School, Curl Curl North Public School, Grays Point Public School, Marton Public School and Padstow Heights Public School.