IT firmly on teacher’s and stu­dents’ agenda

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By ROSE CAW­LEY

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.

is

are us­ing

‘‘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.’’

Photo: PETER MEECHAM

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.

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