Thursday, June 24, 2010

Project Umonya: CS4HS Workshop

Project Umonya is an realisation of a lot of hard work by the UCT Algorithm Circle. Umonya means Python in Zulu, Python being the language of choice for teaching beginners. The UCT Algorithm Circle submitted a proposal to Google for its Computer Science 4 High School (CS4HS) funding grants. AC proposed to run 4 courses across the country for up to 250 school children between grades 7-9 in each location. This is the most ambitious undertaking of the AC yet. An article from the Monday Paper on the most recent course we ran shows the 75 high school students we coached through the basics of programming and algorithms, which at the time we considered rather large. The next course is set for August and we're scaling up to 100 high school students this time.

Google accepted the proposal last week and agreed to partially fund it and thus we are forging ahead with plans, logistics and redesigning our course content (theory, examples and exercises). The next step is to recruit more tutors into the project. We have a wonderful mix of postgraduate and undergraduate students (and a few very bright high school students) working as both tutors and lecturers, the entire project is run by students, a feat in itself.

We (the students) volunteer our time as we feel strongly about increasing the country's capacity for computer science and allowing early high school students the opportunity to experience CS to make an informed decision in choosing it as a subject. We hope to provide encourage and enthusiasm for the subject we all love. If some of them go on to win CS competitions, even better.

The format going forward is to train a core group of lecturers and tutors from UCT and then bring in the university students as additional tutors at each location. This provides them an opportunity to share their passion, talk about their experiences and hopefully build teaching capacity to expand the project even further in future years (long term goal).

If you know of anyone who you think would be interested in the project (high school student, uni student wanting to tutor, sponsors, printers etc please spread the word)

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