ComBank inaugurates project for computer coding in schools | Daily News

ComBank inaugurates project for computer coding in schools

Some of the students participating in the computer coding project.
Some of the students participating in the computer coding project.

A project to teach school children computer programming has had an encouraging start, with students of a rural school demonstrating their skills by developing innovative and useful applications in just three months, the project’s promoter, the Commercial Bank of Ceylon reports.

Students of the Rajasinghe Vidyalaya, Hanwella participated in a foundation course in computer programming under a pilot project in coding presented by the Commercial Bank in collaboration with the STEMUp Education Foundation.

The course was conducted with the help of BBC micro: bit, a pocket-sized codeable computer with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology, which allows students to express themselves digitally.

STEMUp Foundation organised a coding competition during the course, encouraging students of the schoolto create coded, real-world applications in groups.

The winning group created an automated system to water plants. In this system, the sensors in the micro:bit gauge the dryness of soil and send a signal to a water tank. Upon receiving the signal, the tank supplies water to plants and stops the flow once the required quantity is absorbed by the soil. The students will apply this technology to the greenhouse in the school, shortly.

The group placed second turned the micro:bit into a temperature reader which sensesa potential threat of fire. If a building is about to catch fire or is on fire, this device indicates the actual temperature of the place, enabling firefighters to accurately assess the situation. It will also suggest methods to douse the fire, including usage of drones, helicopters, or high-pressure water cannons, depending on the type of fire.

Other products created by the teams included a control system which can be fixed to overhead water tanks to regulate water level and prevent overflowing; a white stick equipped with a micro:bit device which produces a buzzing signal thatalerts a visually-handicapped person using the stick toobjects that lie within one meter; and a home security system in which the micro:bit immediately identifies the presence of a trespasser and sends a vibratory signal to the digital device of the owner.

Applauding the innovation of the students and the marketable value of these products, the judges presented constructive suggestions that could improve their usability and functions.The awards to the winning groups were presented by representatives of Commercial Bank and the judges.

Launched in November last year with the objectives of increasing computer programming capabilities of students and to encourage critical thinking, the projectwas part of Commercial Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibilityagenda. Following its successful completion in February, the Bank said it plans to extend the programme to other schools as well. According to educators, learning coding can also help students learn to be more persistent, acquire problem-solving skills, attempt new things, practice math skills, deconstruct complex problems into manageable parts and solve them gradually, develop communication through software applications, while increasing their opportunities in the job market.

Conceived by BBC learning in 2012 and initially developed together with BBC’s award-winning R&D department, the micro:bit is BBC’s most ambitious education initiative in 30 years, with an ambition to inspire digital creativity and develop a new generation of tech pioneers.

Under its education-related Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, which place emphasis on IT literacy, the Commercial Bank of Ceylon has donated 180 IT Labs to schools and other institutions and is a partner in the government – private sector ‘Smart Schools’ project currently encompassing 65 schools in the Western Province.


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