Pupils in Northern Ireland have tested ancient computer technology as the new academic term kicks off with a visit to roadshow museum The CODE Show.
Launched at Wellington College, Belfast, the roadshow will tour ten schools in Counties Antrim, Down, L’Derry and Tyrone using technology spanning five decades of innovation including BBC Micros, Acorn Electrons and ZX Spectrums.
The scheme, supported by the region’s largest IT employer, Allstate NI, comes to Northern Ireland to encourage more teenagers, particularly young girls, to compare historic technology with today’s smartphones and devices and hopefully pursue an IT career in Ireland imagining the future.
The CODE Show, a traveling computer exhibition, originated in the north of England and features home technology from the 1980s, including a Sinclair C5 that will be available to school students.
Through practical access it is a reminder of how technology has evolved in recent years with the aim of showing that IT is not a new concept but an evolving area in which Northern Ireland excels and in which there are a number of careers there .
The roadshow will travel throughout Northern Ireland visiting:
- Wellington College Belfast
- Hunter’s House, Belfast
- Rathmore Grammar School, Belfast
- Adoption Grammar School, Ballynahinch
- Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School, Belfast
- St Killian’s College, Carnlough
- St Joseph’s Boys’ School, Derry
- St Mary’s College, Derry
- Lumen Christi College, Derry
- Holy Cross College, Strabane
Sophie Kane, a year 14 student at Wellington College Belfast said:
“Watching the CODE Show at our school was an enlightening and thought provoking experience. When we saw these computing systems, which differ from our typical mobile devices and PCs, we were able to visualize the scope of computing evolution and see the remaining importance of fundamental IT principles.”
“By illustrating the tremendous advances in technology – this forced us to consider the remaining potential for innovation that we can bring to our own careers.”
Gareth O’Hare, Head of Computer Science and ICT at Wellington College Belfast said:
“When I introduced my ninth and tenth grade students to a 40-year-old Acorn Electron, they were absolutely blown away by the older mechanical keyboard and how little programming principles had changed in 40 years. With the IT industry in Northern Ireland being understaffed and looking for more qualified people, particularly women in IT, I thought this fascination might be the catalyst to spark interest in younger students.”
“One school alone could never have afforded this, so we are thrilled that Allstate NI has offered to be the sole sponsor of the program and ensure we bring it to Northern Ireland. After this year’s pilot, I hope we can make this an annual event to visit more schools in NI. My main focus is to encourage KS3 students, especially girls, to pursue a career path in IT and to address the labor shortage identified in the NI Skills Barometer.”
Rob Smyth, Director at Allstate NI said:
“The exchange with young people is incredibly important for the future of IT. We are always impressed by the graduates who join us here at Allstate NI and want more young people to choose subjects and courses that are IT-focused. Today’s CODE Show launch is a big part of that and will help them learn and explore how coding has evolved. As Northern Ireland’s largest technology company, we are delighted to be behind this program and to ensure it reaches as many young people in the region as possible.”