Young scientist urges school focus on digital technology

One of Ireland’s top young scientists says students want to see schools becoming more digitally focussed during class time.

Young scientist urges school focus on digital technology

Ciara Judge, 16, a former winner of the BT Young Scientist Competition, is a member of the recently formed Digital Youth Council.

The fifth-year student at Kinsale Community School in Co Cork was in Dublin yesterday to outline the priorities for Ireland’s digital future.

During her address at Silicon Republic’s Digital Ireland Forum, the teenager said digital technology must be part of the education process.

“I don’t think the solution is to kit out every kid with an iPad,” she said.

However, classrooms needed to be better equipped with diverse technology — white boards and laptops that are used during class time.

It’s about the appropriate use of resources, said Ms Judge. She realised, however, that teaching computer code is challenging — some teachers did not want to take it on and the resources were not there.

“One idea is to create a satellite specialist project — someone with coding and computer science skills who can spend a day in every school,” she said.

Ms Judge said the cost of the project could be shared by the schools.

“We need to increase the use of information and communication technologies in the learning experience — integrating digital technology into education, not just teaching it, but using it as part of the learning experience.”

Ms Judge said students would also feel more positive about school tests if they were able to undertake them on tablets.

Ms Judge and classmates Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow will attend the final of the Google Science Fair at its San Francisco headquarters in California next Friday.

The trio are among the finalists in the global competition, for their research on the use of natural bacteria to assist food production by increasing crop output.

They were awarded first place in September last year in the EU contest for Young Scientists.

The students have been working on the project since winning the top prize at the BT Young Scientist contest in January 2013.

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