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.
The 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.
Shirley 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!
Bruce and Beatrix