Fire Tech UK
NISTI – National Institute for Science Technology and Innovation
NISTI in the Seychelles are concerned that their young people aren’t learning future-critical technology skills that will give them the chance to have a bright, fulfilling future. One of their goals is to expose young people to STEM skills and opportunities in order to increase the next generation’s economic opportunities.
Technology resources and skills on the island are in short supply; the government needed a programme to ignite their young people’s interest in technology and coding.
- To expose young people to coding and technology skills
- To empower young people to create and not only consume technology
- To enable young people to take up challenges as problem solvers and changemakers
- To support local digital skills development so that companies such as Barclays/asba can draw on local talent as they digitalise
Who We Taught
We delivered the programme to 19 young people (10 boys and nine girls) aged 12 to 16 from nine different schools around the island of Mahe. The students had variable ability levels and experience, from no experience at all, to being self-taught in basic coding.
“This was an exciting opportunity for Fire Tech to inspire these young people, empower them with coding skills, and help them see how they can solve global and local challenges with the help of technology. “Jill Hodges, Fire Tech’s founder and CEO
What we did
Fire Tech had been in touch with the main partner for over a year about this programme. However, in the end, an opportunity for funding came up and we had to act quickly in order to deliver the course during the summer holidays.
Fire Tech initially came up with three different classes that we would teach, and we provided three expert tutors to run the courses, plus Jill coming later in the week to make sure that the programme was delivering all of the goals. Once we got there we had to flex that programme to fit the local equipment and some last-minute logistical changes. We were able to adapt quickly and delivered a Teen Coding with Python course to the 19 students.
Python is generally considered the most popular language for education, both in schools and universities, and is also relevant for industry software developers, with many blue-chip software products (eg Dropbox and Pinterest) being coded in Python. Our course gives the students a good foundation in programming and also gives them experience working with online learning resources and challenge-based learning.
We ran the courses for four days (as there was a power cut one day), covering materials on variables, functions, loops, lists, inputs, print vs run, and more. We covered most of the material from the coding portion of the UK Computing GCSE, complemented with challenges, quizzes (Kahoots) and games to keep the kids engaged.
How we did
We asked students the following questions and to answer them on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most positive.
- The content of this course – 4.67
- The Fire Tech tutors – 4.83
- The learning process on this course – “did you like the way it was taught?” – 4.61
We then asked students the following:
- “After doing this course I feel more skilled at coding” – 15/18 agreed or strongly agreed with three answering neither agree nor disagree
- “After doing this course I feel like I can think analytically about problems” 17/18 agreed or strongly agreed.
- “After doing this course I feel more interested in STEM studies” – 15/18 agreed or strongly agreed
We asked the students for feedback on what they enjoyed about the course and why they would recommend it to others:
- “Definitely take a [Fire Tech] course because it is very intriguing and there is a lot of enjoyment and sense of achievement while doing it”
- ”The tutors were extremely friendly”
- “It is a great course whereby you can learn about the topic that you chose within a week.”
We also wanted to understand how this programme changed the way young people thought about problems facing their generation and how they could use tech skills like the ones they’d learned to solve those problems.
When we asked the students about the biggest problem facing their generation, the most popular single answer was around pollution and climate change. Other answers focused on more personal, social problems.
The students came up with inventive ways to help solve those problems using tech. For example, using robotics to go where people can’t (like deep water), using renewable energy sources, monitoring fish levels and fishing quantities, and using drones to clean up polluted areas.
Both the students and the sponsors were very happy with what the students achieved that week. They appreciated our ability to be flexible and problem solve in our approach to teaching in this new environment.
The students very much enjoyed the programme and came away interested in learning more and equipped with confidence, a foundation of coding skills, and a library of online learning resources.