This year 21 children aged from 7-14 years joined us at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) to learn all about coding and programming. Staff from the Scientific Computing and Particle Physics Departments at RAL, and the Boulby Underground Laboratory worked alongside the RAL Public Engagement team to give the children a week-long experience we hope they won't forget in a hurry! And hopefully we will have set at least a few of them on a career path to becoming the computer scientists of the future.
The children split into teams and tested their skills using a Lego Mindstorm 'robot' to perform the tasks they set for it. Needless to say, some of their early efforts were more successful than others! In the end they did all manage to get the robots working as expected.
We also had a live link to Boulby, which at 1.1 kilometres beneath our feet is Britain's deepest mine and is located on the North East coast. With the help of staff there, the children were able to code and control a robot deep in the mine and see what was happening in real-time on the large screen.
At the end of the week the teams presented the work they had been doing to an audience of family members and STFC staff. Tom Griffin, Director of the Scientific Computing Department (pictured below with Sophy Palmer from the Public Engagement team and some of the children), presented each child with a certificate of achievement.
It was a very successful and fun week. The children all said they enjoyed the Summer Coding School - as did the staff, who were taking time out from their regular work to teach, help and inspire the children in these activities. We were also delighted that a couple of the children took the time to send a 'thank you' note.