Hāwea Flat Primary school’s six mighty binary champs are heading to Wellington on December 5 to compete in the New Zealand finals of the Tahi, Rua, Toru Tech Challenge. The team of computation science whizz kids came first in the Otago/Southland finals and scored themselves a spot in the nationals — a huge feat for a small rural school which is consistently punching above its weight.
For readers too old to understand binary maths, “Binary numbers is what computers do and the things in the black and white so computers can see what you’re typing,” said Issy Joyce, age 9.
“This is the result of the new digital technologies curriculum which the school has been working hard for,” said teacher Kate Bodger. “It’s all unplugged computer science — coding without a computer. It’s hard core maths.”
“This is a passion of mine and I’ve been their teacher for three years so it’s rubbed off on them. I really like that they’re studying computer tech but not on a computer. People often think these kids are starting at screens all day but this is giving them computational thinking out of the curriculum. Thinking like computers but not with computers. It’s a really good foundation.”
Computational thinking is about understanding the computer science principles that underlie all digital technologies, and learning how to develop instructions, such as programming, to control these technologies.
According to the young team, Lily and Loui were the best binary mathematicians whilst Issy struggled the most. But, with extra help from her friends, Issy is super proud to say she is now “the second best on the team.” Accepting help, perseverance and determination all abundantly clear in this little computer competitor.
The team of six, with their teacher, will travel to Wellington to compete in the finals where they will also visit the National Library and the head offices of Trademe where they will see binary code in real-life application.