Mandela Day virtual coding tournament for learners

NMU computing sciences professor Jean Greyling said the university's upcoming virtual coding tournament would be a fundraiser for the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds
FUN WITH CODING: NMU computing sciences professor Jean Greyling said the university's upcoming virtual coding tournament would be a fundraiser for the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds
Image: WERNER HILLS

The Nelson Mandela University department of computing sciences is hosting another inter-schools virtual coding  tournament on Mandela Day. 

Schools from across the country are invited to take part in the tournament using BOATS, an educational coding app developed by a team from the Nelson Mandela University. 

The tournament will run from July 18 to 25 and no previous experience is required.

While having fun, pupils will be educated on coding, marine pollution and Covid-19, with R30,000 worth of prizes, including tablets, data and cash, awaiting top winners.

NMU computing sciences professor Jean Greyling said the tournament would be a fundraiser for the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

For every pupil who enters, R15 will be donated towards the organisation, Greyling said. 

SANCCOB Port Elizabeth Centre manager Margot Collet  said the centre had been unable to make an income since the lockdown was implemented in March.

“Most of our income comes from visitors and learners coming to our centre – through entry fees.
“Also, we raise funds through selling merchandise from our shop and coffee shop which have been closed since the beginning of lockdown.

“We have had to be creative to find alternative ways to raise funds and, in this economic climate, [it has] not been easy,” Collet said. 

The Mandela Day tournament is the second BOATS tournament to be held virtually, after 180 pupils from 30 schools took part in the first virtual competition launched in May.

The tournament was won by  Alexander Road High School, which was rewarded with R4,000, while Newell High School’s Simamnkele Dekeda was the overall winner of the competition, earning a two-gig data bundle. 

Using mainly short WhatsApp videos, schools and pupils will be guided on how to enter and participate in the tournament from home. Learners can thus participate from home by interacting with the BOATS coding app. 

“The coding is based on the robotics curriculum of lower primary school grades, but the competitive nature of the app makes it fun even for matriculants.
“Through tips and multiple-choice questions, learners are furthermore educated on marine pollution as well as health safety issues related to Covid-19.

“The app is thus an ideal tool to use by schools to keep their learners aware of these relevant topics,” Greyling said. 

BOATS was developed last year to educate pupils about marine pollution and coding, but Greyling and his team had since added features that allow for virtual tournaments and covid-19-related information.

BOATS is one of three coding apps co-ordinated by Greyling aimed at introducing pupils   to coding without the use of a computer.

Award-winning TANKS focuses on coding, while RANGERS educates about game poaching in Africa.

To take part in the tournament, contact Greyling on jean.greyling@mandela.ac.za.

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