Summerwood Primary School hosts novel unplugged coding competition
Updated: Jun 13
The first ever Unplugged Coding Competition for Primary School coding clubs in Gceberha on 10 June 2022, was aptly hosted by Ms B. Jonson, coding facilitator at Summerwood Primary School.
"The most exciting surprise during the introduction to the day's coding competition, was a pre-recorded message from NMU alumnus and Amazon vice-president, Mr David Brown." said Professor Jean Greyling, Associate Professor from the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences Faculty.
Mr David Brown is the vice-president of the Amazon, the world's largest online retailer.
Mr Brown mentioned that Mr W. Foaden, principal of Summerwood Primary School, was his rugby coach in his Grade 5-year. In the same year, he received his first calculator-like computing device. He started the journey to teach himself programming. He has remained passionate about computing.
Mr Brown reminded the learners how fortunate they are to use coding apps like TANKS that teach programming in a fun and interesting way. He believes that what people like Professor Greyling and the team of Tangible and the Leva Foundation are doing, is changing the way in which children are learning programming; locally and internationally.
Comments by Professor Jean Greyling
Professor J. Greyling, Associate Professor at Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences commented on the Coding Competition.
Professor Greyling, is well-known for spreading awareness about coding to South African youth and internationally, and as project coordinator of Tangible Africa . He briefed the excited learners before the games began.
He mentioned that colourfully dressed teams from coding clubs representing Erica Girls Primary School, Collegiate Junior School for Girls, Brylin Private School and Parsons Hill Primary School joined the host school Summerwood Primary School for a fun-filled afternoon of unplugged coding.
He commented that more than 130 Grade 5-7 learners played a 45-minute game of TANKS, the coding app game developed by a former Nelson Mandela University postgraduate computing sciences student, Byron Batteson.
Professor Greyling stated that he schools’ coding clubs were introduced to the magic of coding through an engagement project known as Tangible Africa, a collaboration between the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences Department and the Leva Foundation.
Professor Greyling reminded the audience that unplugged coding clubs using coding apps like TANKS, BOATS and RANGERS are imperative. These apps use the same concept of coding without the use of computers using off-line, cost-effective instruments.
He also reminded the audience that South Africa is in dire need of programmers. He mentioned that unplugged coding empowers the learners with skills needed for the fourth industrial revolution. These skills include: problem-solving, group collaboration, creativity and managing people.
Professor Greyling provided the following facts about Tangible Africa.
To date, Tangible Africa has reached nearly 50 000 learners in direct workshops and distributed coding kits to over 500 schools. A #Coding4Mandela Challenge is planned for Monday, July 18, when as many young people as possible will be coding at the same time. Tournaments have proven a very successful way to create excitement and participation amongst learners and teachers. Currently 5000 learners will be coding at 40 host sites in 9 provinces.
Professor Greyling mentioned that Corporates are encouraged to sponsor the event.
For more information, contact Prof Jean Greyling at Jean.Greyling@mandela.ac.za
Comments by Ms Bronwen Jonson, Summerwood Coding Club Facilitator
"TANKS uses tokens resembling puzzle pieces and image recognition on the mobile App, which requires no data once the level has been downloaded from the App and Play store,
This means all the learners have an equal playing field, and we encourage everyone in the teams to participate. The game teaches the learners there is more than one way to get to an answer, not to give up and other valuable problem-solving skills," she added.
Learners are introduced to basic coding concepts, which increases in complexity levels as they progress.
A total of 28 teams are participating in the Unplugged Coding Competition Day and winning prizes were sponsored by parents from Summerwood Primary School as well as Bargain Books. Twizza supplied a soft drink for all the participants.
There is no charge for the competition, but we asked parents to donate prizes in order for as many teams as possible to win something. The prizes are for the top ten teams, and other fun categories like ‘best dressed’ or ‘best group name’ etc.
While the coding club at Summerwood Primary School only started this year, the enthusiasm for coding has grown so much that it is now offered four days a week for different age groups at the school.
We would love to do more of these Unplugged Coding Competition Days, as it is a great confidence booster for all the learners. Once our learners have completed all 35 levels of TANKS, they will receive a certificate of completion."
Responses from Learners
Summerwood Primary School learners make no secret of their excitement for coding as an extra curricular activity. " I love coding because it challenges my brain and it’s exciting to come to after a long day at school," said Jennifer Hamilton, a Grade 7-learner.
Grade 5-learner, Ziva Meyer, agrees: "I think coding is a brain game. It makes you think out of the box, and it challenges you to try out new ideas to solve the problem. I love to do coding with my friends!”.