Mathematics Teachers: ‘fantastic competition’, ‘excellent problem solving opportunities’

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Dear all,

We are very proud of our amazing ICT teachers who organise the Bebras Challenge at their schools all around Australia!

We would like to share a letter we received from Gary Kenworthy and Shirley Munro, teachers at Aquinas College (VIC), and sincerely thank them for their support!


 The Bebras Australia Computational Thinking Challenge started in 2014 to enable Australian primary and secondary school students to have looking at the area of computational thinking in a fun and problem orientated way. “Bebras” is the Lithuanian word for “Beaver” and this animal was chosen as the Bebras mascot because of its hard working and persistent nature. In 2014, almost 1 million students from all over the world took part in the Bebras challenge 10,000 of these students were from Australia.

The Year 9 Gaming course has been focussing on Computational Thinking this year and so it was decided to give them an opportunity to take part in the Bebras challenge.

Photo1The challenge can be undertaken individually or in groups and with this being a first attempt, the students chose to work in groups chosen by themselves. The problems are set at various year levels and within each year level the problems are categorised into levels of difficulty with A being the easiest and C being the most difficult. Students are awarded marks for getting the questions correct 6 points for category A, 9 points for category B and 12 points for category C.

Once signed up with Bebras, the students log in and are given 45 minutes to work through the problems before the timer locks them out. They are free to skip problems and go back to them later. Working in groups had its advantages and disadvantages. For some of the more difficult problems, it was great to see the students working together to come up with possible solutions. It also provided an opportunity for one students to be planning out the problem on paper whilst others focussed on the onscreen solution. The disadvantage was that some students took a back seat and left the bulk of the work to others in their group. This is not necessarily a bad thing as students will often find themselves working in groups and should try to develop strategies that will engage all group members.

Having completed the challenge with Year 9 students, it became apparent that this project would be highly suitable for students studying Mathematics. As a result, Mr Gary Kenworthy signed up his Enriched Mathematics group for the challenge and his comments are below.

Photo2Shirley generously offered to assist my Year 8 Enriched Mathematics class in signing up for the Bebras challenge as a mathematics competition. This activity provided the students with an excellent problem solving based ICT activity. The range of questions offered excellent visual stimulus, and provided a great degree of variety in both challenge level and strategy. There was embedded literacy in the questions that also added another layer to the real world dimension of the questions.

I ran the activity in a format that had students working primarily individually, but they were allowed to speak to the people on either side of them, or ask me for help if they were not quite sure how to begin a specific question. This ‘phone a friend approach’ was positive and gave the students an ‘in’ on most of the questions. On the whole the students were thoroughly engaged in the activity and offered each other support when it was required.

Externally provided activities that provide excellent problem solving opportunities and also engage the students are a fantastic resource. I think that the Bebras Challenge ticked both of these boxes, and I would definitely like the classes I teach to be involved in future Bebras Challenge opportunities.

Shirley Munro, IT Teacher

Gary Kenworthy, Mathematics Teacher


Did you run or participate in Bebras at your school? Let us know what you think!

Cheers,

Bruce and Beatrix

 

Bebras Briefing in 1h

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Dear Coordinators,

The next Bebras Australia briefing session is scheduled for today, Tuesday, March 10, 9pm Sydney/Melbourne time.

If you are interested in joining but have not yet received a meeting invite, please contact karsten.schulz[at]nicta.com.au

Cheers,
Bruce and Beatrix

Bebras Briefing for Coordinators

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Dear Coordinators,

We will be running two briefing sessions for you:

– Tuesday, March 10, 9pm Sydney/Melbourne time.
– Friday, March 13, 2pm Sydney/Melbourne time.

If you are interested in joining but have not yet received a meeting invite, please contact karsten.schulz[at]nicta.com.au

Cheers,
Bruce and Beatrix

Learn about Coding at SF World Tour: Melbourne

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Author: John Westgarth, State Manager, Digital Careers program (NSW/ACT)

‘Learning to code’ initiatives are gaining traction all over the world – and Australia is no different. Around the country, governments, industry, educators and schools are turning their attention to the benefits of promoting technology and associated science and mathematics courses in schools. For those in the tech industry, these initiatives could not come sooner.

In 2014 Seek.com, the Australian online jobs platform, announced that tech companies became the largest advertisers for skilled workers. However with only 5% of high school leavers graduating from computer subjects and university enrolments sitting at just 50% of the numbers recorded in 2001, roles are becoming difficult to fill.

The benefits of learning to code are many and varied. At its most basic, learning to code supports students move from passive consumers of technology to actual creators – people capable of using technology to deliver their ideas. Learning to code also gives students lifelong confidence with technology – whether it’s the basic editing of a website, building an app, working with hardware or having the skills to work in teams to solve customer problems.

Digital Careers is an Australian based not-for-profit focused on encouraging young people into further technology studies and careers. We work with students to promote technology careers, support teacher professional development and run engaging activities that expose students to the benefits of coding and technology. The program is actively supported by a number of stakeholders including Commonwealth and State governments, major universities, educators, technology companies and technology associations.

In 2014 Digital Careers supported Code.org with Australia’s Hour of Code efforts (including a great session at Salesforce’s Sydney office), ran Bebras – Australia’s first online computational thinking challenge (involving 10,000 students), and worked with SAP to deliver the Young ICT Explorerstechnology challenge.

Salesforce World Tour Melbourne

In 2015, we are excited to attend The Salesforce World Tour in Melbourne – representing the learning to code movement along with a couple of other organisations:

CoderDojo: an open source, volunteer led, global movement of free coding clubs for young people. CoderDojo has recently opened its first Dojo in Melbourne and is already giving young people the confidence to build and deliver tech projects.

Code Club Australia: a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. Code Club Australia runs a well-coordinated curriculum teaching students basic coding (through Scratch), HTML, CSS and Python.

If you are at the World Tour we would love to talk to you about how you can be involved in this nationwide drive to support students learning to code. We strongly believe that coding, and technological competence, is a lifelong skill that will benefit all students. We also believe that more can be done to improve the diversity of people working in the sector. This means encouraging and supporting increased female participation as well as working with students from underserved communities.

Find out more about the Bebras Challenge!

NOTE – This article also features at http://www.salesforce.org/learn-coding-sf-world-tour-melbourne/.

Next Round of Bebras (March 16-27, 2015)

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Dear Teachers, Dear Students, Dear Parents,

We are happy to advise that the next round of Bebras Australia will run during two weeks of March, 215. There will also be a second round from September 7-18. We are looking forward to welcoming back the schools & students that participated in Bebras  in 2014, plus many new participants.

Warm Regards,
Bruce and Beatrix

Australian Champion in Computational Thinking Challenge

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Year 3 student Nathan Ward was the only student in Australia to achieve a perfect score of 135 in his age group in the 2014 Bebras Australian Computational Thinking Challenge which was held in September. Nathan has been named as an Australian Champion and is one of only 2 students in his age group to have his name on the Australian Honour Role.

Bebras is an international initiative whose goal is to promote computational thinking for students ages 8 – 17 in years 3 – 12. Bebras is run by NICTA under the Digital Careers Program and funded by the Australian Government as represented by the Department of Communications.

The challenges are made up of a set of short questions called Bebras tasks and are delivered via the cloud. The tasks are clearly related to computational thinking concepts. To solve tasks students are required to think in and about information, discrete structures, computation, data processing, and algorithmic concepts. Each task can both demonstrate an aspect of computational thinking and test the talent of the participant. Participants had 15 problems to solve. The problems were presented under three levels of difficulty – Easy, medium and hard – each consisting of 5 questions. The questions get progressively more difficult as students advance upwards through the school system.

Nathan said “The Bebra’s Challenge was great! I really liked answering the computer science maths questions. It was awesome fun. I was surprised to find out I was the Year 3/4 Australian Champion. I am very happy and cannot wait to do another challenge like this one.”

NOTE: Originally published https://cairnssde.eq.edu.au/Calendarandnews/News/Pages/Australian-Champion-in-Computational-Thinking-Challenge-.aspx

 

World Leaders Check Out Computer Technology Made By Australian Students

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THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the Sydney installations of the National ICT Australia (NICTA) at the Technology Park on Monday amid tight security. NICTA is home to Australia’s leading digital technology scientists and entrepreneurs.

It has a close association with Germany’s Fraunhofer technology research organisation and Dr Merkel is a well-known advocate for technology and innovation as economic drivers.

During the brief visit, the Chancellor, a scientist, saw a demonstration of several computer technologies made by Australian students including a hi-tech mood light, by 11-year-old Esther Schulz, one of the Australian national champions at the March 2014 round of the Bebras Australia Computational Thinking Challenge (or Informatik Biber in Germany). It measures a person’s mood on the basis of their body temperature. The light turned orange in the Chancellor’s hands which NICTA says indicated a “warm body”.

The invention won the Australian Young ICT Explorers competition in 2014, itself inspired by Jugend Forscht, a German youth science competition.

Dr Merkel also saw a demonstration of 13-year-old Michael Schulz’s Star Trek- inspired scientific tricorder. According to science fiction authors, this device would only be invented in the 23rd century, but Michael’s device is ready now. It combines integrated sensors and a computer into a mobile handheld device that explores the natural world.

The Labor opposition jumped on the visit, co-hosted by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, releasing a statement describing it as a “disgrace” that the government had turned its back on the organisation.

“Ministers Turnbull and [Ian] Macfarlane were happy to pose for photos with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she toured NICTA’s Future Logistics Living Lab this morning but haven’t been as forthcoming when it comes to funding its future,” shadow industry spokesperson Kim Carr said.

The federal government has cut NICTA’s annual funding of around $45 million from June 2016, forcing the organisation to seek to operate self-sufficiently. Dr Merkel wasn’t the only world leader to pop into an Australian technology centre, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Queensland’s University of Technology’s Science and Engineering Centre while in Brisbane.

QUT roboticists showed him the new AgBot II, part of the university’s farm program. It will autonomously seed, weed and fertilise crops in trials starting early next year. Asked to write a message on the robot, Mr Modi wrote (translated from Gujarati):

“Research is the mother of invention. The development journey of mankind is a continuous stream of research. Science and technology is very important for agriculture.”

While in Sydney, the Dr Merkel also addressed a German-Australian Chamber of Commerce event where German software giant SAP announced it would invest $150 million into an Institute for Digital Government in Canberra. It will aim to support Australian Government agencies in “innovating citizen-centric services” and will open by mid 2015.

See the original article at: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/angela-merkel-narendra-modi-take-time-to-check-out-australian-innovation-20141117-11o9gv.html#ixzz3zwgJxBtn
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Thank YOU !

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We would like to thank all Students, Teachers and Home School Parents for their participation in this round of Bebras. Over the past 2 weeks more than 7,400 students participated, solving some 111,000 tasks. Wow!

We have just completed the grading and switched the system into interactive review mode. So log in again and check out your results (Click on ‘Your Score’ on the left). Students can go back and re-answer questions they got wrong. The system will give  immediate feedback.

The detailed solution guide  is now online and available for download in the Teacher section of the Bebras Website.

Teachers, if you want to run Bebras again in Term 4 with additional students, then please contact Karsten and he will work with you.

Warm Regards,

Beatrix and Bruce

Bebras Briefing Webinars for Coordinators

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Dear Coordinators,

We will be running two briefing sessions for you next week:

– Monday, August 25 2014, 8pm Brisbane time
– Wednesday, August 27 2014, 1pm Brisbane time.

If you are interested in joining but have not yet received a meeting invite, please contact karsten.schulz[at]nicta.com.au

Cheers,
Bruce and Beatrix