Teenage coders develop skills in the home of computing

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A teenager who participated in the Young Rewired State 2011 (YRS2011) coding event at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) has won an award for his programming work. Two others achieved honourable mentions.

The week-long national YRS2011 ‘hack’ event at 14 regional centres throughout the UK invited young (under 18) aspiring web developers to build their own web apps with mentoring from experienced developers. At the end of the week, all the projects are presented to press, government and industry at an event at the Microsoft Offices in London, where judges will award prizes to the best apps and ideas.

At TNMOC, nine teenagers spent their week coding amongst some the world’s great vintage computers.

Chris Monk, TNMOC Educational Officer who organised the TNMOC event, said “It was an excellent experience for the young programmers and also the volunteers and staff at TNMOC. Participating in this event has shown us another way that we can contribute to the computing education of young people.”

“We are delighted that Tom received an award and two others received honourable mentions – but frankly we thought they were all terrific and deserving of high praise. There is a national skill shortage of programmers and I am quite sure that all of the students at TNMOC have a very bright employment future if they keep honing their skills.”

Seventeen-year-old Tom Shadwell, based at TNMOC, was the national winner of “Best Example of Coding” award. His application to discover ‘Where’s My Train’ was inspired by once having his train journey delayed only to find that an un-timetabled ghost train arrived instead. So, using php and Javascript, he set himself the very complex coding task of using publicly available data to try to establish where trains are between stations.

One of the youngest coders at TNMOC, thirteen-year-old Ollie, started coding just two months ago and developed his skills in developing a game using Game-Maker. Other programmers’ work included development of a sailing website, a local school search and traffic information.

During the week, the young coders were able to investigate their computer heritage. Tom Shadwell really appreciated the PC Gallery and the BBC micros while young Ollie was amazed by Colossus. “How did they ever think it could work?” he asked. “Didn't they think it might just blow up?”

Andy Clark, chairman of TNMOC trustees, commented: “I saw the event at first hand and was very impressed at the young talent emerging. A key role for TNMOC is education and we are very grateful to TNMOC volunteers and the external mentors who gave of their time freely to make it such a success.”

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