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National coding competition for students from Year 5 up to Form 5

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National coding competition for students from Year 5 up to Form 5The Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) has launched this year’s National Coding Competition in collaboration with the Ministry for Education and Employment and the University of Malta.

The competition is open for all students attending from Year 5 up to Form 5. Competing in age appropriate categories, students will have to create a game about this year’s theme – Design the Future. Interested students should register their intention to participate by November 12th and the final deadline for game submissions is December 5th.

The National Coding Competition was launched by Evarist Bartolo, the Minister for Education and Employment and by Dr José Herrera, the Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth. The competition is part of Malta’s activities in the European-wide initiatives for Code Week 2014.

The aim of the competition is to develop and sustain students’ interest in programming both inside and outside the classroom. Minister Evarist Bartolo said, “Through hands-on and fun exposure, students learn that coding is a process of discovery that enables them to create and animate drawings, games, and applications.”

Statistics indicate that the number of students who have chosen Computing between 2010 and 2013 has decreased. It is evident that students need to be encouraged to choose Computing as a subject of choice at Form 3 and their interest needs to be sustained once the subject is chosen. This can only be achieved through targeted initiatives like the National Coding Competition.

This year’s competition is open to hundreds of students from Year 5 to Form 5 in Malta and Gozo competing in the Primary, Middle School or Upper Secondary categories.

MITA has already run two successful computing competitions in the past two years, ‘Scratch’ in 2012, and the ‘Only Girls Allowed’ competition in 2013; and has supported the ‘mScratch’ competition organised by the Ministry for Education in 2013.

Last year’s competition reached out to 125 female students attending Form 1 and 2, and 67 students through the mScratch. In 2012, MITA reached out to 51 students through the Scratch competition.

During the summer, the Computing Group within the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta, together with Holistic, Microsoft and St. Martin’s Institute supported this initiative by delivering training in various programming environments to participating educators.

Educators will then encourage participating students to create an interactive game and to experiment with the features of the chosen programming environment.

The MITA Executive Chairman said, “The National Coding Competition is a unique opportunity for students to collaborate and enhance their digital, problem solving and critical thinking skills, which are essential to their future success.”

This initiative also raises awareness of eSkills education and careers and will integrate critical skills across educational and formative experiences..

Dr José Herrera stated, “As a country we need to continuously invest in our human capital to ensure that we have an adequate supply of such skills. Such initiatives help students to develop competences that are important for the development and competitiveness of Malta.”

There will be a winning team from all three categories and educators and students will also be rewarded for their efforts. Prizes include a trip to an ICT organisation in Europe for the winning team and their mentor/teacher, Lego Mindstorms Educational sets and Bigshot DIY Camera Kits.

For more information about the National Coding Competition and to participate, visit www.mita.gov.mt/codingcompetition.

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