Dear Parents and Girls,

I’ve been permitted to hijack the head’s blog for one week only, as there is a big event in educational technology that we wanted to share with you. The news this week that a robotic arm system in Washington has successfully performed an operation without human intervention, is yet another reminder of the ubiquitous spread of technology into all areas of our lives. Whether it’s driverless vehicles arriving on roads in Sweden (Volvo is recruiting 100 people to commute to work in Gothenburg in 2017 without touching the controls), or the industrial 3D printers producing products that surpass anything previously possible (a British engineering company has come up with a way to make a perfect crown or bridge from a digital scan of a patient’s mouth), it is clear that many new technologies are reaching maturity after years of hype and expectation.

For the last few years, encouraging an interest in Computer Science has been a priority for schools across the country, a trend that we have exploited fully at BHHS. Indeed, it is abundantly clear that we need a generation of young people who are passionate about coding, tinkering and making things with technology in order to develop, program and maintain the kinds of computerised systems that are pushing their way into myriad parts of modern life.

The BBC knows all about this, and have recently implemented a nationwide scheme to get all Year 7 pupils inspired by technology, coding and creativity. Every pupil in the country has been sent, via their school, a microbit computer that is theirs to keep. This tiny device has 25 red LED lights that can flash messages, two programmable buttons that can be used to control games or pause and skip songs on a playlist, and a motion detector that can tell which direction you are heading in. Combined with a low energy Bluetooth connection to interact with other devices (like a smartphone), this adds up to something that has limitless creative uses and huge potential to inspire young programmers with something tangible. Lesson ideas on the website include creating a digital yoyo, rock paper scissors game, a magic 8 fortune teller, a compass, minesweeper, pong and hundreds of others (look out for your daughter asking for some material to use when creating a wearable technology watch in IT lessons soon!). There are lots of support materials for interested parents and teachers, as well as live lessons and hardware guides.

As we look forward to another year of supporting the Brighton Digital Festival with the Royal Institute technology masterclasses in September 2016 (more information about these coming soon), I really hope that you find your daughter coming home excited about the prospect of being creative with this amazing device, and that this in turn, makes her think about what she might do in the future with new technology.

Jamie Whiteside | Assistant Head