During a recent maths lesson, our Year 7 students took part in a friendly online introduction to coding. Teacher Sarah Harrold taught the students using a micro:bit: a free, pocket-sized codeable computer, created as part of the BBC’s Make It Digital Initiative to get young people excited about technology. The children each programmed a short game on the device, which they then played as a class. Mixing play and coding, the students learned that programming does not have to be intimidating and can even be fun. With Mr Clarke and Mr Smalley in the Maths department helping to run the event online, the lesson was a success.
This lesson forms part of a range of initiatives at St Mary’s to inspire girls to discover their full potential in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, in which women are often under-represented. According to UCAS data, women made up only 16.2% of UK computer science-related degrees at university in 2020. Yet the gender gap continues to close in tech subjects at university level and below each year.
Making the case for learning to code at St Mary’s, Sixth Form STEM Scholar, Hannah B.D. said:
‘People should consider programming more, it’s not geeky; it’s fun! Computer science is where the future is’.
The micro:bit lesson is only one example of St Mary’s commitment to closing the gender gap in STEM. The Junior School plans to open a new STEM lab to ignite pupils’ passion for science from an early age. Watch this space for updates.