JAM | May 17, 2023

Campion College wins coding challenge

/ Our Today

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Coding challenge winners Campion College joined by Deleen Powell (left), Girls in ICT Day project lead and business communication manager at Flow; Natalie Bennett, senior product manager at Google Inc.;(sixth right), Dr Terri-Karelle Reid (seventh right); and Kavelle Hylton, CEO of STEM Builders Learning Hub (sixth left). (Photo: Contributed)

Communications and entertainment provider Flow created an immersive experience for over 200 girls from 18 high schools across the country in recognition of Girls in Information, Communication and Technology (GIICT) Day.

Joining the global celebration on April 27, Flow hosted an Expo at the AC Marriot hotel in Kingston which combined innovation, participation, and inspiration.

New and emerging technology such as drones for academic research and humanoid robots were on display by some of the exhibitors; the students were kept engaged with a live coding challenge and gamified participation; and inspiration came from keynote speaker, Natalie Bennett, Jamaica-born senior product manager at Google.

The GIICT Expo started with words of encouragement from the Science and Technology Minister Daryl Vaz, and brought policymakers, business leaders and entrepreneurs in the ICT arena together, providing the attendees with a multifaceted experience.

“Overall, the day was a monumental success,” said Deleen Powell, manager of business communications at Flow. “We set out to provide the young ladies with an immersive experience in ICT that would expose them to a plethora of career opportunities and get them excited about the possibilities within the field. With the support of our partners, we were able to achieve this goal.”

The day included interactive displays by the University of the West Indies, University of Technology, Northern Caribbean University, Vocational Training Development Institute, Amber HEART Coding Academy, Star Apple AI, Universal Service Fund and STEM Builders Learning Hub, which also led the coding challenge.

Students from Convent of Mercy Alpha, who placed second in the coding challenge, are joined by past student and Keynote Speaker at the event, Senior Product Manager at Google Natalie Bennett (centre) and Flow Team member Allia Henry. (Photo: Contributed)

The challenge was open to all schools in attendance and did not require the students to have previous coding knowledge. Campion College won the challenge, while Convent of Mercy Alpha came second and Mona High came third. Each team of 10 girls received devices and mobile credit courtesy of Flow. Dr Terri-Karelle Reid, who was the moderator for the day, also donated a copy of her book, My Brand Compass, to each member of the winning team, which coincidentally is her alma mater.

Powell added that the coding challenge provided a great opportunity to demystify coding and show how practical and fun it can be.

“While some girls had previous coding experience, others had never coded before and were initially intimidated by the activity. With the support of the instructors, the looks of confusion were transformed to expressions of triumph as the young ladies gained an understanding and appreciation for coding,” Powell shared.

The most impactful feature of the day was Bennett’s story. The students identified with her as she shared her journey from being a student at Convent of Mercy Alpha with limited resources and a passion for ICT to becoming Senior Product Manager at Google. Bennet spoke passionately about using self-belief to power your dreams.

Students of Mona High School, who placed third in the coding challenge, are joined by project manager at the Jamaica Technology and Digital Alliance Alexia Beckford (fifth right). (Photo: Contributed)

“Technology will be needed in every business and in every area of our lives and you can be the one to make it happen. Don’t allow your circumstances to determine your future. The journey may be longer and harder for some more than others, but never stop dreaming. It will keep you motivated. If you can see it, you can believe it and you will become it,” Bennett encouraged the girls.

GIICT Day was conceptualised in 2011 by the International Telecommunications Union to increase the representation of girls and women in the ICT sector by empowering them with the skills and confidence to achieve their goals. This year, the calendar day was commemorated under the theme ‘Digital Skills for Life’.


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