IT firmly on teacher’s and students’ agenda
Getting more young girls into the IT industry has become one Ponsonby teacher’s mission.
Klaris Philipson is director of technologies at St Cuthbert’s College.
Over summer she ran a coding camp, #GirlsInnov8, to give students a taste of 3D modelling and printing, HTML, CSS, robotics programming, game design and building an app.
‘‘Just because a child knows how to use the device doesn’t mean they know how the device works,’’ Philipson says.
‘‘We need the developers, we need the people who can create because that is the future.
‘‘That is why we need to teach these children computer science and programming.’’
At St Cuthbert’s the girls are taught the building blocks of coding from the age of 5, and programming is now compulsory in years 7 and 8.
A programmer has just been recruited to the digital technology staff.
Philipson says more young girls need to be exposed to what is actually a great industry.
‘‘IT isn’t a male-dominated, boring industry.
‘‘That view of the industry outdated.
‘‘I’m doing my bit to break down that stereotype.’’
Within hours of publicising the coding camp, Air New Zealand chief information officer Julia Raue had thrown her support behind the idea and offered to sponsor three girls from low-decile schools to attend.
Thirty-two girls attended the camp, including St Cuthbert’s College student Francesca OrchardHall.
The 15-year-old says she wanted to grow her computer science skills to ensure that in the future she can succeed in her ambition to become a brain surgeon.
‘‘In medicine you robots to do surgeries.
‘‘That might be the future of brain surgery, it might not be hands-on.’’
The digital technology industry is New Zealand’s fastest-growing sector. In the past six years, exports have doubled to more than $7 billion, making it New Zealand’s third-largest export earner.
Yet for many teachers, the idea of programming computers rather than just using them is daunting.
Late last year, associate minister of education Nikki Kaye announced a new $5 million investment to help teachers take advantage of digital technology to enhance learning.
‘‘It is an area that is starting to be given the support that teachers need,’’ Philipson says.
‘‘It is an industry that is constantly developing, so teachers need to be right there with them learning so they can teach the next generation.’’
Growing minds: St Cuthbert’s College director of technologies Klaris Philipson is on a mission to inspire students like Francesca Orchard-Hall, 15, and Alexandra Fowler, 15, to get into the IT industry.