Pupils in Northern Ireland have been testing out vintage computing technology while the new academic term gets underway with a visit from The CODE Show roadshow museum.
Launched at Wellington College Belfast, the roadshow is touring ten schools across counties Antrim, Down, L’Derry and Tyrone with technology spanning five decades of innovation, including BBC Micros, Acorn Electrons and ZX Spectrums.
Supported by the region’s largest IT employer Allstate NI, the programme comes to Northern Ireland in a bid to encourage more teenagers, particularly young girls, to compare the historical technology with the smartphones and devices of today, and hopefully picture themselves pursuing an IT career in future.
A travelling computing exhibition, The CODE Show originated in the North of England and features 1980s home technology, including a Sinclair C5, which will be available for use by pupils.
By giving hands-on access, it acts as a reminder of how technology has advanced in recent years with the aim of demonstrating that IT is not a new concept, but an evolving area that Northern Ireland is excelling in and has a range of careers in.
Travelling throughout Northern Ireland, the roadshow is visiting:
- Wellington College Belfast
- Hunter House, Belfast
- Rathmore Grammar School, Belfast
- Assumption 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, Year 14 pupil at Wellington College Belfast said:
“Having The CODE Show visit our school was an eye-opening and thought-provoking experience. Seeing these computing systems, which are different to our typical mobile devices and PCs, allowed us to visualise the scope of computing evolution and perceive the remaining significance of basic IT principles.”
“Through illustrating the vast advancements of technology – this compelled us to consider the remaining potential for innovation, which we can contribute within our own careers.”
Gareth O’Hare, Head of Computer Science and ICT at Wellington College Belfast said:
“When I introduced my Year Nine and Ten pupils to a 40-year-old Acorn Electron they were absolutely blown away by the older mechanical keyboard and how little coding principals had changed in 40 years. As the Northern Ireland IT industry is understaffed and looking for more skilled people, particularly women in IT, I thought this fascination could be the catalyst that ignites a spark of interest among younger pupils.”
“One school alone could never have afforded this, so we are thrilled that Allstate NI offered to be sole sponsors of the programme and ensure we got it to Northern Ireland. After this year’s pilot, I am hopeful that we can make this an annual event to visit more schools in NI. My primary focus is to encourage KS3 pupils, particularly girls, to follow a career pathway into IT and address the workforce deficit as identified in the NI Skills barometer.”
Rob Smyth, Director at Allstate NI said:
“Engaging with young people is incredibly important for the future of IT. We are constantly impressed by the graduates that join us here at Allstate NI and want to see more young people choosing the school subjects and courses that align with IT. Getting The CODE Show underway today is a big part of that, and will help them learn and explore how coding has developed. As Northern Ireland’s largest tech company, we are thrilled to get behind this programme and ensure it reaches as many young people in the region as possible.”