The IBM Robo Challenge, formerly the IBM Junior Developer Challenge, invites teams of children from local primary schools to compete in a series of programming challenges.
In 2019 our commitment to improving gender equality in computing saw us pioneer our first girls-only Challenge. Teams of KS2 girls from 12 schools were given a Lego NXT kit, an IBM mentor and 10 weeks to prepare for a series of exciting challenges such as programming their robot to complete a dance routine, taking part in a race and designing and programming their own game on Scratch. It culminated in a day at IBM on London’s South Bank where all the teams competed to see which would come out on top, with mentors and family members cheering them on.
Research has shown that employer engagement at primary school level has a positive impact on attainment and developing the interpersonal skills needed in the 21st-century workplace.
In 2018 100% of pupils who took part in our IBM Junior Developer Challenge said they had learnt something new from the project, often highlighting personal and social development as well as STEM-related skills: “I have learnt how to programme a robot and work as a team,” said one pupil.
“It’s been massive to come here and see the IBM building and all these people that work here. The girls have lots of questions already about the kind of jobs there are here. They are in London, at IBM and taking part in this big competition. The volunteers coming into the school have been really good at talking to the girls about how the activities relate to real life and explaining how they use the same sort of problem-solving in their jobs. The volunteer gave them real-life examples of coding.” Teacher
“The competition is great for encouraging the children to think about jobs in technology. Having the support from Afeefa and Howard from IBM helped give the children an insight about what it is like to work in technology. Visiting the IBM building was also very inspiring.” Teacher Katie Bell from Crown Lane Primary
“The amount of teamwork, perseverance, collaboration, problem solving and creativity needed was almost more important than the programming skills they developed. They all got so much from being part of the project, and having the final day at IBM was really inspiring for them all.” Teacher, Ruth Grimwood from Crown Lane Primary
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Our large funded programmes offer free courses, events and multimedia resources to develop the skills of school leaders, teachers, students and the whole school community. Our current projects include BlendEd, which helps teachers, school leaders and other educators design effective teaching and learning that makes the most of digital technologies.
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This programme is designed for primary teachers who have recently taken on responsibilities and leadership for technology and computing. It will cover curriculum planning, tools and resources, methods for supporting colleagues and progression and assessment. Colleagues will be expected to attend all three sessions. The third session will be held in a school and will include classroom visits.
Further details for sessions 2 and 3 to follow:
Session 2: 9.30-11.30am Thursday 27 January (virtual)
Session 3: TBC (in person)
Special project in collaboration with First News Education
For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.
The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.
The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities.
Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm.
Project work undertaken in school - October and November.
Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.