Bebras Results are available

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Dear Coordinators,

We have graded the March 2016 Bebras Challenge and the results are now available.

We have also uploaded the 2016 Solutions Guide to the Documents section in the Coordinators corner on the Bebras Server. There, you will find a very detailed analysis of Bebras 2016 (ranking, percentiles, participation numbers, results per question, etc), together with the certificates template, should you need to manually generate student certificates, for example because your students participated under a pseudonym. In the Coordinators corner, go to Export Files and click on ‘Download testimonials’ to download the system-generated student certificates.

DownloadingCertificates

The students can log back into the system with their accounts to check their answers. The system now behaves differently, meaning that students can go back to the questions and answer them again, but this time the system will provide immediate feedback (review mode).

If you like, you can work with your students through the solutions guide, which has all the questions and all the answers.

Happy Easter,

Beatrix+Bruce

Bebras 2016: Server is Ready

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Dear Coordinators and Students,

The Bebras Server is now open.

We wish you all a great Computational Thinking experience over the next two weeks. Enjoy!

Please remember, that student accounts are only valid for one participation, but Coordinators can always create more student accounts, if needed. Also, please be aware that new co-ordinators can still register.

Warm Regards,
Bruce and Beatrix

Computational thinking with Bebras is back!

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As first featured on http://www.geekinsydney.com/. 

Australia’s largest student computational thinking / computer science challenge returns September 7-18, 2015.

Bebras is a challenge to promote Computational Thinking and computer science among primary and secondary students (years 3-12). The purpose is to expose students to computer science and logic concepts without the need for prior digital technology/coding knowledge. Over 20,000 Australian students have participated in Bebras since 2014.

To solve the tasks, students are required to think about logic, digital technologies, discrete structures, computation, data processing, and algorithmic concepts. Students can work in teams and find solving the problems very rewarding. In case all that leaves you uncertain, the Bebras website has some very clear examples of what’s involved – it’s not nearly as threatening as it might sound.

Bebras is free for schools and is delivered online and in class within one school hour (45-60 min). Teachers choose when their students participate in the challenge (between 7-18 Sept). Students from Year 3-12, participate in age categories. No prior computing/ICT knowledge is required.

Bebras is a  great idea coordinated by Digital Careers. Getting students to understand how to break computer science problems up and solve them is the pivotal element in moving them on to coding – as well as just being all-round good for their thinking.

For all the computationally-thought-through details point your browser at: www.bebras.edu.au.

2016 Registrations are open

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Dear Coordinators,

We wish you a very Happy New Year 2016. With the new Digital Technologies Curriculum now endorsed by the Education Ministers, we are eagerly preparing the next round of Bebras, which will start on March 14. We have uploaded the new 2016 Poster, Coordinators’ Handbook and Student Handbook to the server and you can find the documents on Dropbox or download them from the Bebras Challenge Server.

If you are a registered coordinator, you can start generating student accounts, as described in the Coordinators’ Handbook. If you would like to register as a coordinator, please go here.

To practice a bit with your students, please feel free to try our new Bebras 365 which is free and does not require logins.

We aim to hold a couple of webinars in the weeks leading up to March 14 and they will be announced soon. As always, feel free to reach out to us via the contact page if you have any questions.

More than 1 million students from over 30 countries participated in Bebras last year, with over 20,000 from Australia.

Warm Regards,

Bruce and Beatrix

Year 8 is the drop off point for girls in IT: Digital Careers

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tennage_girl_laptop

Encouraging girls to study careers in technology towards the end of high school could be too late, according to research by Digital Careers, which looked at the participation of girls in this year’s.

The independent organisation, which promotes careers in technology, conducted research on the 20,000 students who participated in this year’s challenge, across 300 schools all around Australia.

It found that participation of girls was consistently strong up until Years 7 and 8 where it started to drop off to 45 per cent of female participation, declining to 31 per cent in Years 9 and 10, and only 20 per cent in Years 11 and 12.

The results showed that the drop off point starts at Year 8, making it crucial to encourage girls to keep engaged and interested in IT early in their high school years rather than later.

“Although there has been a pattern identified amongst female students – a drop off in ICT subjects in high school – this result has given us the insight needed to further develop and work towards re-engaging girls in digital technologies,” said Digital Careers national director, Karsten Schulz.

“It is important that this trend is addressed and that students have the requisite skills to participate in the workforce of the future. At Digital Careers we take a dual approach of engaging with students through fun, experiential digital technology programs, as well as empowering teachers and educators through training and workshops.”

Last year, Digital Careers partnered with Bebras to include Australia in its challenge to encourage Australian students to get involved in learning technology skills.

“I find Bebras a great challenge for our kids and find it helps to promote computational thinking with our teachers and students. With the new Australian Digital Technologies curriculum now endorsed from next year, it is a great resource,” said Tony Hall, from William Carey Christian School in NSW.

NOTE: Originally published: http://www.cio.com.au/article/588684/year-8-drop-off-point-girls-it-digital-careers/

When will results be available?

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Dear Coordinators,
We will grade the Bebras Challenge this week Saturday (Sept 19) in the morning and results will be available shortly thereafter.

After Bebras has been graded you will have access to the detailed results of your students and the certificates. The students will be able to log back into the system to see which questions they got right and which they haven’t. At that time, the system will behave differently, meaning that students can go back to the questions and answer them again, but this time the system will provide immediate feedback (review mode).

If you like, you can, in the meantime, work with your students through the solutions guide, which has all the questions and all the answers. The link is:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/z95wejrqopld5b1/2015%20Bebras%20Solution%20Guide.pdf?dl=0

Warm Regards,

Beatrix+Bruce

Bebras September Round

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Dear Coordinators,

The next round of Bebras kicks off on September 7. We will be using the same questions as in the March round. We will still be generating certificates that you can distribute to your students, but will not produce an honours roll this round. If you have students that have participated in March and want to participate again, please generate new accounts for them. Please let the system generate user IDs, as to avoid account duplication.

Students can participate in multiple age levels and receive a certificate for each participation. Each student account is valid for one participation, but coordinators can generate new accounts for those students and set the grade field accordingly (please see the coordinator handbook for details). The question catalogue for the years 3+4 and 5+6 are the same, so if you have students at these year levels, the next level up would be the 7+8s year level.

The solutions guide at
contains all the questions and information about in which year level they are being used. Some questions get re-used across the year levels, so the students who participate in multiple year levels will recognise some of the questions.
In any case, we wish your students much fun. Please remember that Bebras is not NAPLAN. Teamwork, talking and sharing of information (even cross teams) is allowed during Bebras and we would like students to enjoy the playful nature of solving problems.
Warm Regards,
Beatrix and Bruce

Bebras International

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Bebras Australia is member of the International Bebras Community of presently 36 countries. 2014 was our first year of Bebras in Australia and Australia is already amongst the top 20 Bebras countries by student participation. Each country maintains their own website. To visit them, please go to:

http://www.bebras.org/?q=countries

Warm Regards,

Bruce and Beatrix

Bebras Poster

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Dear Coordinators,

We have updated the Bebras Poster for the upcoming round of Bebras in September. You will find a link in the teacher section of the Website.

Warm Regards,

Beatrix and Bruce.

Instant Bebras

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Dear Teachers,

We’ve put the 2014 Bebras question catalogue into the open. You can use it to teach computational thinking in the classroom, discuss concepts with your students, or just as a creative element between lessons. The system gives immediate feedback when the students click on answers so no need to wait for grading.

The link is here.

Warm Regards,

Bruce and Beatrix.

 

Bebras Honour Roll

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We are excited to congratulate the top-scoring students from the March round of Bebras Australia. Well done to you and your 10,000 fellow students for your successful participation in Bebras. 

Years 3+4
Anais Siu, Bald Face Public School New South Wales
Jessica Conis Bald Face Public School, New South Wales
Benjamin Pirom, Bald Face Public School, New South Wales

Years 5+6
Jemeeka Leigh, Methodist Ladies’ College, Western Australia
Jade Alcock, Methodist Ladies’ College, Western Australia
Mackenzie Goiser, Queanbeyan South Public School, New South Wales
Dylan Selby, The Southport School, Queensland

Years 7+8
Nathania Yong, Presbyterian Ladies College, Victoria
Hari Arvind Prasanna, Mansfield State High School, Queensland
Ivan Varghese, Mansfield State High School, Queensland

Years 9+10
Dheanna Eller, Emanuel School, New South Wales
Sienna Amoils, Emanuel School, New South Wales
Peter Snelson, William Carey Christian School, New South Wales
Brandon Hodges, William Carey Christian School, New South Wales
Samuel Roth, William Carey Christian School, New South Wales
Alex Thomas, The Friends’ School, Tasmania
Lachlan Pouw, Eltham High School, Victoria
Luke Woodhouse, Ferny Grove State High School, Queensland
Max Collison, McKinnon Secondary College, Victoria
Riley Meredith-Vincent, Ferny Grove State High School, Queensland
Zack Fertjowski, Ferny Grove State High School, Queensland
Dante Petrin, Macarthur Anglican School, New South Wales
Sam Macdonald, Macarthur Anglican School, New South Wales

Years 11+12
Aleisha Herington, Guilford Young College, Tasmania
Daniel Radomsky, Emanuel School, New South Wales
Daniel Rosengarten, Emanuel School, New South Wales
Izaac Marsh, Grafton High School, New South Wales
Luc Johnston, Grafton High School, New South Wales
Nathan Short, Grafton High School, New South Wales
Nathaniel Knoll, Emanuel School, New South Wales
Ryan Shenfield, Emanuel School, New South Wales
Thomas Grantley-Davies, Grafton High School, New South Wales
Bradley Anderson, Bradfield Senior College, New South Wales
Joshua Burn, Bradfield Senior College, New South Wales
Nicholas Whittaker, McKinnon Secondary College, Victoria
Davis Allie Guilford, Young College, Tasmania
Maisen Lockyer, Guilford Young College, Tasmania

Warm Regards,
Bruce and Beatrix

EMBRACING THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES CURRICULUM

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AS FEATURED ON http://educationtechnologysolutions.com.au

Australia’s first digital technology / computing / computer curriculum is on its doorstep, and anyone who has been paying attention in educational circles for the last two years knows the words computational thinking and coding are all the rage right now. So what are the implications for educators, who are likely to have had little exposure in their training as to how to teach computer science to children, and are therefore somewhere between frightened or excited by what lies ahead?

The Dawn of a New Curriculum Approach to Technology

The official stance from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) of the Technologies Curriculum at the time of writing is that the curriculum is “available for use; awaiting final endorsement”, even though it has been in this state for well over a year now.

The current education minister, Christopher Pyne, has done little to ensure the endorsement, particularly after a review of the entire national curriculum was released in October 2014. Political agendas and duress aside, it is ACARA’s intention that schools commence partial adoption of the curriculum, with full adoption expected by 2017.

The Technologies Curriculum encompasses two interconnected areas: Design and Technologies, where students use critical thinking to create innovative solutions for authentic problems; and Digital Technologies, where students use computational thinking and information systems to implement digital solutions.

According to ACARA, the aims of the syllabus are to ensure that students can:

  • create, manage and evaluate sustainable and innovative digital solutions
  • use computational thinking and the key concepts of abstraction to create digital solutions
  • use digital systems to automate and communicate the transformation of data
  • apply protocols and legal practises that support safe, ethical and respectful communications
  • apply systems thinking to information systems and predict the impact of these systems on individuals, societies, economies and environments.

What is most promising about the way this curriculum is written is the way it has embraced technology as a holistic approach to thinking and exercising creativity. The traditional teaching of ICT in schools has usually been around the idea of integrating tools to assist in other subject areas, which is the intention of ICT as a general capability in the Australian Curriculum. Instead, the Technologies Curriculum paves the way for teachers to work with children as young as Foundation on pattern recognition and classifying data in contexts that they can understand, which gradually builds up to the development of students with a strong understanding of computer science by the time they reach Year 10.

The content structure of the Technologies Curriculum can be viewed at australiancurriculum.edu.au/technologies/rationale

Demystifying Coding

Noticeable in the Digital Technologies component of the new curriculum are the ideas of computational thinking and coding, which are introduced to students in early primary school.

The idea of coding is not to have students simply churn out computer programs. Rather, it is about assisting them to identify and analyse problems, and develop innovative and creative solutions, which will ultimately help contribute to a global society improved by technology.

Computational, system and design thinking all require the ability to examine problems clearly and to break them down into manageable parts in order to systematically analyse a process to best solve them. It encourages the design of several solutions that can be applied in broad contexts. This type of problem solving – or thinking – is highly valued in the outside world. The ability to analyse problems and come up with clever solutions is the kind of thinking that continues to push the world forward, yet oddly enough, it has not been taught in a deliberate and defined way – until now!

Through the Code.org initiative, more and more advocates are championing the idea of coding in schools, from celebrities like will.i.am to the Silicon Valley elite. The worrying trend is that the number of computer science graduates is currently not meeting demand, yet alone in the future, where the demand is expected to further increase as the world starts to crave employees who are skilled in using technology to design products and solutions. Mark Zuckerberg is quoted as saying, “Our policy (at Facebook) is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find… the whole limit in the system is that there are not enough people who are trained and have these skills today”.

Coding can have the stigma of an unexciting operation that takes place in a dark room with nerds sipping on soft drinks, huddled around glowing screens and punching in lots of ones and zeros. Once upon a time, it was necessary to have a tertiary degree to operate punch-card machinery and to develop lines of code for programs that ran on mainframe computers. Through the advancements of technology, and particularly in the way in which users can interact with it, anybody of any age can now code.

Put simply, coding is about writing and following instructions. When a set of instructions are written for the computer, it follows them. Any time a person has explained to someone how to bake a cake, or typed a sum on a calculator, or organised a filing cabinet in alphabetical order, he or she has essentially been designing an algorithm to execute a desired action. Coding is teaching a computer how to run a sequence of events; for the reason that a computer can execute steps a lot faster than a human can.

Technology is starting to automate a lot of tasks that can easily be replicated by traditional, human-driven processes. For this reason, a shift in the modernised and globalised world has started. For example, take Japan’s Toyota production line which, through the use of machines and robots, can assemble a car in 18 hours to specific client orders; or the ambitious Google Self-Driving Car Project, which promises to safely transport passengers from A to B without requiring the commuter to lift a finger; or the use of computer-assisted self-checkouts at the supermarket.

The overly critical may say that technology is taking over jobs, which to some extent is true. However, more accurately, it is disrupting jobs and changing the supply and demand for workers. Jobs for production factories will still exist, as will people who drive cars, as will people who work in supermarkets.

What will probably be true is that these jobs are far more likely to require the skill sets of engineers and coders, who are skilled with technology and in programming, to be able to deliver solutions. Those who can build robotic arms to weld alloy will be more sought after than those who can assemble nuts and bolts. Those who can write programs that analyse traffic patterns for automated cars will eventually be in more demand than taxi drivers or chauffeurs. Those who can design computer-assisted checkout systems will replace those who manually scan items for consumers.

It is for this reason that everyone needs to embrace the new Technologies Curriculum for the good of their children and the future of Australia as a technologically relevant country.

How to Support Computational Thinking, Coding and the new Technologies Curriculum

Code.org: launched in 2013, Code.org is a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to expanding participation in computer science, particularly by increasing participation amongst women.

Hour of Code: an initiative of Code.org, Hour of Code is an annual event that promotes coding in primary and secondary schools across the globe. The coding tutorials can be completed online and have modules suitable for all ages (see studio.code.org).

Code Club Australia: a nationwide network of free, volunteer-led, after-school coding clubs for children aged nine to eleven (see codeclubau.org).

Code the Future: aims to forge crucial links between the technology industry and education (see codefuture.org).

Bebras Australia Computational Thinking Challenge: Bebras is an international initiative whose goal is to promote computational thinking for teachers and students in Years 3 to 12, and is aligned with the new Digital Technologies Curriculum.

Computer Science Unplugged: is a collection of free learning activities that teach computer science without having to learn programming first (see csunplugged.org).

Careers with Code: is a publication by Refraction Media and Google that promotes computer science careers in design, education, science, health, arts, media, law and business (see refractionmedia.com.au/careerswithcode/ or search for Careers with Code on Google Play or iTunes App Store).

CSER MOOC: the Computer Science Education Research Group at the University of Adelaide have developed a number of open, online courses designed to assist teachers in addressing the new digital technologies learning area (see csdigitaltech.appspot.com/course).

This article was written by Anthony Speranza is the ICT Learning and Teaching Leader at St. Mark’s Primary School in Dingley, Victoria. In his time at St. Mark’s, he has established several digital literacy initiatives, developed cyber-safety and global citizenship programs, and introduced multimedia software and hardware into P-6 classrooms. Currently, he is implementing a 1:1 Chromebook program and is supporting teachers and students from Years Prep to 6 to utilise Google Apps for Education. He is an authorised Google Education Trainer, Google Certified Teacher, and the recipient of the 2014 DLTV Educator of the Year as awarded by Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria. Anthony is passionate about contemporary spaces, pedagogies and collaborative practices amongst educators. He is an avid speaker and facilitator at local, national and international level. Anthony can be contacted via his blog anthsperanza.global2.vic.edu.au or follow him on Twitter @anthsperanza

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