On Tuesday 9th October, five students from Ms Kerr’s science class visited an AIB branch in Leopardstown to take part in a STEM workshop. This workshop was in honour of Ada Lovelace, a 19th century English mathematician, considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. The primary objective of the workshop was to encourage and promote girls to pursue more technological and mathematical career paths.
The organisers at AIB started the day by providing us with breakfast after which we were divided into tables to sit at and began with the first activity – a cyber security talk. Five workers from the cyber security team gave us an introduction into their backgrounds and what their daily work involved. They explained encryption to us and led us through their dehacking procedures. Following this, we were given the opportunity to encrypt a message ourselves. The workers had a selection of spot prizes on show and throughout the workshop they would pull names out of an electronic hat to win certain prizes.
After a short break we went straight into the second activity of the day – beading in binary. Binary is a numeric system that only uses two digits, 0 and 1. Computers store their information in binary. We were given beads and plastic wire to create a necklace with our name written in binary on it. After this we were assigned a challenge: we were given 50 sheets of paper per table and were instructed to build as high a structure with these as possible. Following this we had lunch in their staff canteen.
One of the aims of the workshop was to show that having a career in computer science doesn’t mean you have to sit behind a computer all day. They organised to have around 10 of their female colleagues to come to the hall and we were to ask them questions on what they do in their career. We were given a list of facts that corresponded with one of the workers and we had to figure out which one was which. Examples including an artist, a doctor, construction worker and numerous backgrounds in foreign countries such as Australia.
We were then give a microbit workshop, presented by an extremely interesting and enthusiastic man, qualities in which I feel are such key elements to making a talk exciting and interactive for us students. He talked about the perception people have about computer science, thinking it merely involves a man hunched over a computer in a dark basement. He showed us the methods of basic coding and gave us various actions we were to instruct the computer to carry out, such as to roll a dice or show words and numbers. I found this area of the workshop the most interesting of all. We had done previous coding in school in first year but the coding we were shown was a lot more intricate and advanced. Overall I think the workshop helped inspire us TY students into the world of computer science and I feel we know a lot more about what computer science involves after attending the workshop.
Anna Capra 4T