Schools in Offaly are invited to register to take part in this year’s ‘National Scratch Competition’.
By Damian Moran
Scratch is a visual programming language that encourages children to develop coding skills through fun and interactive learning. The 2016 Scratch National Final will take place in the RDS, Dublin, during Tech Week 2016 (24 – 30 April). The closing date for registrations is Friday, 12 February.
Scratch is an innovative educational tool that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving and communication skills in children. Participants can to create their own interactive stories, animations, games and music which can then be shared on the web. Since the inaugural competition in 2010, Scratch has established itself among students and teachers as a leading platform and showcase for Ireland’s aspiring digital creators. In 2015, the competition attracted 738 entrants with 25 projects progressing 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, “We live at a time were almost every part of our lives is impacted and improved by technology. Ensuring our children have good digital skills needs to be seen as an important part of their development”.
“Furthermore, Ireland needs over 45,000 skilled new ICT professionals by 2018 to fuel the continuing growth of our economy. The current generation of children and teens are ‘digital natives’ but instead of just using technology, we want them, and their parents, to understand the opportunity that exists and to figure out if technology is for them at an early stage. They can then choose the correct subjects and make college decisions on an informed basis around all that technology has to offer. Fun competitions like Scratch can help young people to understand more about what technology has to offer and to gain confidence in their digital aptitude”, added Ms Cleary.
The use of Scratch in Irish schools has increased significantly since the tool became available from the MIT Media Lab in 2007. “The Scratch competition is a great way to encourage students to use their creativity to build their own projects and showcase their own ideas in Scratch”, said Clare McInerney, Education and Outreach Manager in Lero.
Scratch is open to individual students, classes and groups of all ages. Further information, including details on how to register, can be found on scratch.ics.ie or www.scratch.ie.
Organised by the Irish Computer Society, Tech Week 2016 will involve over 100,000 primary and post-primary pupils all over Ireland in a huge range of fun activities including the finals of tech events that have been running throughout the past year.