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Could Mary Queen of Bots get girls into computing?
20 September 2017

New resources to help teachers blend computing science into subjects such as art and languages could hold the key to encouraging more girls to consider careers in digital technology.

Launching today at Scottish Learning Festival, Education Scotland has published 20 new resource packs to extend digital skills across broad general education from nursery through to secondary school, as part of a strategy to build girls' confidence and resilience in computing science from nursery to S3.

The resources focus on the creative and collaborative aspects of computational thinking, programming and coding and were commissioned by the Digital Technologies Skills Group as part of a range of actions to tackle the gender gap from early years onwards. The Digital Technologies Skills Group is funded by Scottish Government's Digital Scotland with Skills Development Scotland as the lead partner.  

History teachers, for example, can bring the past to life with 'Mary Queen of Bots' – a series of lessons where pupils use the Kodu platform to create a game based around real events from the life of Mary Queen of Scots. This approach incorporates programming, algorithms and debugging in a fun and engaging way at the same time as reinforcing pupils' historical understanding. The basic plan can be easily adapted to cover alternative historical figures.

Allan Armstrong, Strategic Director at Education Scotland, said: "The digital technologies sector is one of the fastest growing parts of the economy and demand for people with digital skills continues to rise – particularly for those with software, data and cyber security skills.

"It is now more important than ever to ensure both boys and girls have equal opportunities to actively participate in the rich and creative computing science curriculum, relating to real world, real time examples. These resources make it possible for teachers to bring computing science into their classroom, whatever their subject area or age group."

Chris Aitken, Principal Teacher, Computing Science, Wick High School said: "As a teacher, I relish the opportunity to break out of my subject bubble and show young people how real-life transferable skills can be applied across subject areas. This is welcomed by employers and gives a real relevance to what young people are learning. These resources give teachers the confidence to enhance their lessons with a sprinkle of Computing Science in their curricular areas all across Scotland."

Lorraine Munro, Nursery Education Specialist, Craigowl Nursery Dundee, said: "It is never too early to start using computer science vocabulary with young children. These resources have supported me and helped to engage early years girls and boys in playing with, experiencing and tinkering with technologies. The Early Level resources will engage children and build their understanding and knowledge of computing sciences."

The packs are now available on Glow and the National Improvement Hub and comprise of lesson plans, PowerPoints, video tutorials and website recommendations to provide a wealth of engaging and inspiring learning experiences for teachers to use with their class over a period of a week, a term or over the academic year.

Visit www.digitalworld.net to find out more about career opportunities in the digital technologies industry.

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