It’s not often that you’re told to ‘get scratching’ but that’s exactly what the Irish Computer Society is asking schools and students to do all over Ireland for this year’s Tech Week .
The National ‘Scratch’ Coding Competition is now open and looking for Ireland’s young coders from junior infants all the way up to sixth year. Scratch is a visual programming language that encourages children to develop essential coding skills through fun and interactive learning.
Schools all over Ireland are now invited to register and take part in this year’s competition. The 2017 Scratch National Final will take place during Tech Week 2017 (23 – 29 April). The closing date for registration is Friday 17th February 2017.
Now in its seventh year, and rapidly growing, the National Scratch Competition has established itself among teachers and students as a leading platform and showcase for Ireland’s aspiring digital creators. Interest and participation has been increasing every year. In 2016, the national competition attracted over 700 young entrants with 25 projects making it to the national finals.
The competition is run by the Irish Computer Society (ICS) and supported by Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre.
Speaking about Scratch, Mary Cleary, Deputy CEO at the ICS said, “It’s great to see such a strong interest and enthusiasm for Scratch in Irish schools among teachers, students and parents. The overall goal of Scratch is to encourage students to learn essential programming and coding basics from an early age. It helps by encouraging students to imagine, create, problem solve and think critically – essential skills for life in the 21st century.
The long term goal is to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects and to help students with the skills required for a knowledge-based economy”, added Ms Cleary.
The use of Scratch in Irish schools has increased a lot since it became available from MIT Media Lab in 2007. “Scratch gives students at primary and second level an understanding of how software is built and how it works. It’s about sparking creativity and interest in technology. It challenges students to create stories, games and animations using software – giving them a taste of technology and perhaps inspiring a future path in IT”, said Clare McInerney, Education and Outreach Manager in Lero.
Scratch is open to individual students, classes and groups from junior infants right up to 6th year in secondary and after-school coding clubs such as Coderdojo. This year there is also a pilot Special Needs category.