Premiers Coding Challenge Winners

​​​Premier's Coding Challenge Finalists Ava Smith and Skyla Birch.jpg

AVA Smith and Skyla Birch from St Mary’s College recently won the Queensland Premiers Coding Challenge. They competed in the Year 7-8 Python/JavaScript/ HTML Pairs Category. The Premier’s Coding Challenge is an annual state-wide initiative open to all Queensland students in Year 3 to Year 10, to encourage and foster a love of technology, coding and development. The Virtual presentation was live streamed across the state and was broadcast at the College assembly. 

St Mary’s College always encourages interested students to participate in the competition with the 2020 challenge set to code an interactive and innovative digital solution to raise awareness of cybersecurity. From explaining the importance of cybersecurity, to planning a digital solution for a specific audience, writing an algorithm, turning the algorithm into visual block code using Scratch or text-based code using HTML or Python, all the way through to supporting a self-evaluation of the prototype and filming a video explanation of their design. Ava, Skyla and other students were encouraged to enter as part of the College Makerspace (The CITADEL). “We would like to thank Ms Patterson and Mrs T for helping in the setup, the recommendations and coding advice” To enter the challenge, the students began by learning a new language. Ava explained “We really wanted to challenge ourselves but we first had to learn HTML code” Skyla said “I think the hardest thing was, we had all these ideas, but we really had to limit them down and find a general idea what we wanted. “Then we were able to adopt things and take things away to streamline it.” The girls created their entry - a website, using HTML code, they then utilised the College CITADEL equipment to transfer the website onto a Raspberry Pi device which they set up as a web server. Ava said “We got our friends and other students in the library to test it and tell us what they thought, we could kind of tell if they found it exciting, and we found what we had to do after that.” Ava and Skyla have a real passion for STEM which they share with their peers. 

As a duo, the girls have become regular winners of technology based awards, in January 2020, the won the Young STEM Award at the Fraser Coast Australia Day Awards. In 2019, the girls won the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards and won a trip to Sydney. From that they were invited to apply to be SheEO Activators as part of a Queensland Government Initiative that sponsored 10 women to be Activators. Ava and Skyla reviewed businesses asking for funding from SheEO in 2020 and voted on which women-led venture should receive the money. These sessions were held online and continued through COVID19 lock down.

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