Over 250 primary and post-primary pupils from the Magherafelt area have taken part in a global educational initiative which provides an introduction to computer science.

Hour of Code, part of Computer Science Education Week, saw students studying IT at Northern Regional College’s Magherafelt campus organise a series of sessions for the pupils.

With over 1,300 events taking place across the UK, Hour of Code has become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science.

The sessions were specially designed to help demystify coding, showing that anyone can learn its basic principles, as well as its use in wider society.

Judith Knox, IT lecturer at Northern Regional College, said that the event was a way to “showcase and increase participation in the wider field of computer science” by providing pupils with the opportunity to experience something they would not have regular access to within their day-to-day school setting.

“Coding is sometimes perceived as being incomprehensible to anyone but a ‘tech wizard’, but we are showing this is not the case.

“The Hour of Code sessions are a platform to explain to younger students that computer science is fun, creative and accessible to all – regardless of their background. It is an area that helps to nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity, something which is extremely important for their long-term personal development.

“Sometimes pupils are not aware of the full range of career options available to them, which is why it is important that the College engages with our young people in this way. As technology continues to have a greater influence upon our 21st century lives, it has become essential to show the variety of career pathways available.

“Computing is something that all young people should consider as a potential career pathway. It is a field that is continuing to growth, evidenced by the amount of FDI and home-grown organisations based in Northern Ireland.”

Conor Davis, a 17-year old ICT student at the College, said it was “critical” for younger students to have the opportunity to learn and understand what a career in computing and the wider technology sector could entail.

He said: “Computer science has so many pathways – for both males and females – across areas such as cyber security, programming, software engineering and game development to name a few.”

Ms Knox explained that the College’s HND Computing students organised the event and helped in the delivery of the sessions. Primary 7 and Year 10 pupils from Magherafelt, Spires Integrated, New Row and Holy Family primary schools, St. Pius X College and Sperrin Integrated College were all in attendance.