An evening of Scratch with the Sapphire Foundation

Last Tuesday the CoWS was host to the first meeting of this year’s Sapphire Foundation students and parents. To celebrate the occasion and technology, Karl was invited to lead another workshop about programming in Scratch. It was a fun and successful evening and one of the students said afterwards: “I learned more about programming in these 2 hours than in one whole term of computing at school.”

The Sapphire Foundation recently had its kick-off meeting at the CoWS and Warwick Adams, the founder, had this to report:

We had the kick-off meeting for the steering committee of the Sapphire Foundation. This involved the parents of the 6 science scholarship students at Bega High and SapphireCoast Anglican College. The scholarship strategy focusses on the ‘non classroom’ elements of getting kids interested in and involved with STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) – extra-curricular activities, parental involvement and mentoring.

We discussed what the students had been doing so far – four of them went to science camps over the last school holidays (a CSIRO ‘Bootcamp’ and 3-day ‘Science Experience’ programs at Sydney and Macquarie Unis) and a couple families had also gone to a whole range of exhibitions and venues in Sydney.

Several of the kids are about to start CSIRO ‘CREST’ projects, where they choose their own topic and go away and research or build it. They can spend anywhere from 30 hours to 100 hours on the project, depending on what level they want to tackle it. One of the Year 9 students has also just won a place in the ‘Gifted and Talented Discovery Program’ which runs at Sydney Uni in July and October – the first time ever for a Bega Valley student.

Everyone is interested in the concept that you are developing – we feel that robotics, computing and UAV’s in particular would be a hit with 14 to 17 year-old kids – but we recognise the real issue of finding a group of volunteers with enough time to get it going properly.

The steering committee decided, as our next step, to get all the kids together at the end of April (along with the parents) to get to know each other and talk about stuff – we think there are some common interests that can be developed.

The committee meeting wrapped up (after 2.5 hours) and was very successful. The parents went away still chatting and very enthusiastic about the direction the scholarship program is taking.

Warwick Adams, Chair, The Sapphire Foundation