Pupils at a North Wales school are cracking the secrets of computer coding and learning how to build robots.
The teenagers are now aiming for careers in the hi-tech world of gaming and IT, thanks to the boost from the after-school club at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan in Abergele.
Code@emrys gives older students the chance to learn how to write code for computers while introducing younger pupils to the world of robotics.
ICT and computer science teacher Karen Khan said the club was set up to offer pupils the chance to improve skills in their own time, with teachers on hand to offer guidance and advice.
She said: “Some of the programming skills pupils learn are not part of the curriculum here in Wales. What is compulsory in England isn’t here and we don’t want our students missing out.
“We set up code@emrys to offer learners the chance to improve their coding and programming skills, while offering robotics as a fun way to learn advanced computing.
“We have more than a dozen pupils attending each afternoon session, sometimes more. The older students have been working through Python, a Java-based computer programme while younger students have been using Lego Mind Storms to build working robots.
“Students are really enthusiastic about learning computer programming and of course the skills they learn are transferable to other subjects such as maths.”
She added: “We really want our students to be able to create and develop new computer programmes and systems rather than just be computer users.”
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan maths and computer science teacher Ian Lloyd added: “It’s important our students are in control and in charge of computers, rather than computers controlling them.
“The students that attend code@emrys are really enthusiastic and keen to learn – it is an after school club and there is absolutely no compulsion to attend. Students come along because they want to learn and improve their programming and coding skills.
“I have absolutely no doubt we have some very talented young computer programmers here at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan, who will have the opportunity to forge a career in computer programming and computer development in the years ahead.”
Students Tibore Hangyal and Joshua Woodward, both 14 and from Kinmel Bay, have ambitions on becoming computer games designers, say code@emrys has been a big help in developing their programming skills.
Tibore said: “I’ve learnt a great deal and what we learn is adding to what we study in class. It’s all helpful and will be very useful in the future.
Joshua said: “Having the chance to come to an after school club where we can look at computer coding and programming in more detail is really helpful. And being an after school club the atmosphere is very relaxed.”
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head teacher Lee Cummins said: “We strongly believe that learners benefit from having access to a wide range of after school clubs and classes, and the emphasis is on giving as many learners as possible the opportunity to participate
“Our ethos is to encourage all our learners to dare to achieve the best they can, right across the curriculum. The code@emrys club is a great example of how staff are working with students to give them extra skills in a very enjoyable setting, and help them towards the next step in their career.”
Also taking part in the club is Cameron Moss, 15, of Bodelwyddan, who wants to become an engineer or computer games designer.
He said: “It’s fantastic the school offers an after school club giving us the chance to improve and develop our coding and programming skills. And to be fair, it’s great teachers are prepared to give up their own time to run code@emrys as an after school club.”
James Richardson, 14, of Rhuddlan, who wants to become a computer programmer, added: “It’s brilliant having code@emrys as an after school club.
“I really have learnt a lot of new skills and what I have learnt has also helped me out in several GCSE assignments including maths.”
Billy Wooding and Katie Cook, both 12 and from Abergele, say they really enjoy attending code@emrys and working through the Lego Mind Storms robotics programmes.
Billy, who wants to become an engineer, said: “I really enjoy robotics and learning more complicated computer skills. I like programming and robotics to be honest you can learn so much.”
Katie, who is not sure as yet what career she wants to follow, added; “I really enjoy robotics it’s so different from other things. I enjoy seeing a project slowly come together. I attend code@emrys as often as I can and always enjoy coming.”
Harry Gingell, 12, of Abergele, who wants to become an engineer and Declan Nichols, 13, of Prestatyn, who wants to become a computer games developer, both attend code@emrys and say they enjoy programming and robotics.
Declan said: “I enjoy coming to the club and I’m really pleased the school and teachers run it. I have learnt a lot about robotics and programming and enjoy everything we do.”
Harry added: “It’s good having an after school club, it means we can take our time and really get to learn a lot about programming. Building and programming robotics is amazing and really good fun.”