More than 500 pupils from primary schools and academies in Mansfield and Ashfield have enjoyed a taste of life as computer science students at West Nottinghamshire College.

This has been made possible thanks to the games industry trade body UKIE’s Digital Schoolhouse project. This not-for-profit programme enables primary schools to experience free, creative computing workshops from their local schoolhouse – of which West Nottinghamshire College is part of.

The project, which is supported by sponsors such as PlayStation, Electronic Arts, SEGA, Ubisoft and Outright Games, uses play-based learning to engage Year 5 and 6 pupils and teachers with computing.

Since February, media and computer science tutors at the college have been running a range of computing workshops for a number of primary schools across Mansfield and Ashfield, enabling some 500 plus children to share expertise and gain more of an insight into computing. 

The sessions have been based around the key concepts of computing, focusing on algorithms, games design, programming, networks, data representation, hardware and software.

Classes such as Eco Gamer helped youngsters discover more about green practices within the video games industry, showing them how to do their part in the reduction of reducing plastics in the sector. The classes learnt about how they can affect the environment and how to use other resources for sales and marketing.

The Crazy Mazes workshop helped show pupils the skills and concepts for programming. They worked on a series of interactive modules and mazes which taught the children the foundations of programming and development and how to rise to the challenge to discover answers for themselves.

Other sessions concentrated on cyber safety, mathematical art within computing, digital footprint, encryption and games design.

Head of department for creative and digital, Kerry Pilcher, said: “The last few months have been an exciting opportunity for both the college and the primary schools to share expertise in this field and to gain a better insight into the world of computing.

“We hope that these workshops have given the children a chance to gain more confidence in all things digital and give them that appetite to learn more about computing ready for when they move into their next chapter of education at secondary school.

“I am proud of how well our teachers at college have helped to bridge the gap between school and college studies and have really inspired these children to want to know more about computer science and design.”

Nicky Goodall, deputy head teacher at Morvern Primary School, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, said: “Both the staff and the children had a great time at the college. They were all keen to share information on the tasks that were completed on their return to school. It was great for the children to experience West Notts College, as many of them were unaware of what was inside. 

“Huge thanks go to tutors Wayne and Richard for leading their inspiring sessions. Our children were awestruck by the computer facilities that are available, and we hope that we can return in the future.” 

Any primary schools wishing to take part in the Digital Schoolhouse programme at the college should contact Kerry Pilcher at [email protected]

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