Challenges and Opportunities

We have been in virtual learning since we returned from Christmas break in January. Lessons are held online and I have adapted elements of flipped learning into my approach. Needless to say these are challenging times for teachers, students and parents. To keep the momentum of creativity and inspiration going I have been exploring ways to engage the students in things outside the class content too. One such opportunity caught my attention when ADA Scotland Festival (ASF) announced a video contest for girls in Scottish schools and colleges. One of the areas that interests me deeply is addressing the gender imbalance in Computer Science and Technology in general. ASF’s event seemed like the perfect way to contribute positively to the cause and create a representation of our identity as an international school. So, I managed to get two brave coding warrior volunteers from my Grade 10 CS class and we started working on this.

The theme of the festival was Why did you get into Computing and what do you get out of it? In our first meeting as a team we decided that having personal hooks and stories to highlight what CS has meant to the girls was the right idea. Stereotypes about anything exist because of the structures that exist and those exist as a result of mindsets. So we wanted to embed data that went along with these stories so that some insight into the girls’ histories and influences could be outlined. We also wanted to keep the presentation simple, light and personal so that their different programming backgrounds and diverse range of experiences could be captured.

Breaking down the structure improved in our second meeting and by the third (and final) time that we met we had a draft video ready. The girls are in a middle of a hectic virtual schooling schedule and despite the challenges of overwhelming work, they managed to keep their calm and complete the presentation. They did the voice over, storyboard, animation and final music enabled edits. We managed to submit the work just one day before it was due! Phew.

This was back in February. On Monday this week, I woke up to the most pleasant surprise that we had not only made it to the top 5, we had actually won the first prize! This win was a much needed reminder and validation for all of us that despite the endless challenges that the current pandemic has been throwing our way, there still exist slivers of hope that if identified and pursued can become memorable opportunities. I am so proud of both these girls for their perseverance and grit. I sincerely hope their work and victory inspires many more girls from not just my school but all schools in Scotland (and beyond!) to continue exploring pathways within Computer Science and converting challenges to opportunities.

Check out their winning submission below.

And now it is time to move on to the next challenge!