Budding Perse coders develop programming passion

Growing numbers of Perse pupils are pursuing a passion for programming thanks to the Developer ProgSoc club.

Aimed at youngsters from Years 7 to 9, the sessions, which take place every Thursday lunchtime, give them the chance to gain an understanding of the Python programming language in an entertaining way.

Perse computer science teacher Iain Attenborough, who co-ordinates Developer ProgSoc, said: “The general remit is to promote a love for programming. It also provides a lovely level of challenge for some of our gifted programmers in younger years.

“The Sixth Form computer science prefects write a challenge each week and the younger pupils then aim to complete a few of them to earn a weekly merit. There are also extension challenges to push them further if they wish.”

Six Upper Sixth computer scientists take it in turn to set tasks, with challenges based around games, such as Connect 4, word quizzes and image creation.

Mabel Symes (Upper Sixth) explained that she had designed programming challenges set around Battleships and Mastermind – a game where the values of four different objects must be found.

She said: “It takes about an hour to create a challenge and we do something like a game because it’s more fun for them to interact with.

“We run through the challenges with them at the start and then we go around and help them out, as well as gradually disclosing solutions on the whiteboard.”

It was through Developer ProgSoc that Mabel acquired her interest in the subject as a Year 7 pupil and she now plans to study for a degree in computer science.

She added: “I’ve had a lot of fun and it’s getting more and more popular each year. Coding is a useful skill and it’s great to see so many more children getting into it.”

Among the pupils regularly attending the Developer ProgSoc sessions is Alexander Walker (Year 8).

He said: “I really enjoy coding and the challenges that are set are fun. They’re the right level of difficulty for everyone and there are always extension tasks you can do too.

“The prefects are also very helpful because rather than just telling you the answers, they give you hints and let you figure it out, but you still get a boost along the way.

“I’ve learned a lot from coming to the club because there are so many different functions that you would learn about later in computer science, so it gives you a head start, and this is the kind of skill that’s becoming more and more important.”

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