A leading north east IT provider has helped teach a local pack of Cub Scouts about one of the must-have job skills of the future as they achieved their latest badge.
Converged Communication Solutions welcomed 1st Kintore Cubs to its Mugiemoss Road office in Aberdeen recently to complete a programming challenge. The independent firm, which specialises in providing Internet connections, telephone systems and IT support services to businesses, designed the task for the youngsters so that they could gain their digital maker badge.
With digital technology playing an ever greater part in modern life, coding is predicted by many career commentators to be the skill most sought after by employers in years to come. After identifying this requirement, The Scout Association introduced the digital maker badge last year. The badge aims to develop the digital skills of Cub Scouts and help inspire them to become the programmers of tomorrow.
Coding is what makes it possible to create software, websites and Apps. They are all built using code – one of the most common is HTML, which is used to build websites. Code is a bit like a recipe, it’s the set of instructions that makes a computer or software work correctly. For future generations digital technology will be more embedded in day-to-day living than ever before, meaning the ability to code will be crucial.
Converged was asked by one of its employees, business administrator Tanya Lakin, to help the Cub Pack. Tanya volunteers as an assistant leader with the Kintore group and realised that her bosses and colleagues were the ideal people to help the youngsters achieve the new badge. Many of the badges that Scout groups chose to undertake are based on the specific skills of group leaders or contacts that they have.
The group of 13 boys and girls, aged between eight and ten years of age, meet on Monday nights at the Kintore Scout Hut. With no Wi-Fi available in the hut, the youngsters visited the Converged offices to complete a coding task. This was designed specifically for them in line with the badge’s criteria by two Converged employees, software developer Chris Toothill and network and support engineer Craig Brown.
Each child had to demonstrate that they could: Connect two devices using either Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a cable and exchange information between them; use two different platforms or operating systems; create a game; design a single webpage; and produce a set of instructions for a programmable robot or toy to follow. During the two-hour visit, all 13 Cub Scouts successfully completed the task and gained their badges.
To deliver the session, Converged purchased five Raspberry Pi computers, credit card-sized devices designed for teaching programming through fun, practical projects. The firm had planned to donate the programming challenge and devices to the local Scout branch. Instead, its staff will continue to support Scout groups by delivering the coding syllabus to up to four local packs each year, helping the youngsters to secure their digital maker badge.
Tanya says: “Everyone at 1st Kintore Cub Scouts really appreciates the support and resources that the team at Converged have provided in order to deliver this fantastic session. All of the children loved it and are very proud of their achievements.
“The introduction of the digital maker badge illustrates how The Scout Association keeps pace with modern lifestyles through the badges it provides. Badges themselves also evolve. Originally the tasks that youngsters had to complete to achieve their communicator badge included using a bugle to sound army calls, such as alarm, charge and lights out. Today, they have to demonstrate how to send a text message and manage an e-mail address book.”
Neil Christie, managing director of Converged, said: “When Tanya approached us with the idea of helping the pack we had no hesitation in saying yes. As a local company, supporting local groups and projects is very important to us. Our team needed no encouragement in designing the programming task or in sharing their experience with budding young techies.
“Introducing the digital maker badge was an astute move by The Scout Association. It helps to prepare children for the future and engages them early in coding, which in future is expected to be an in-demand skill. There are certainly one or two budding programmers of the future within Kintore’s Cub Pack. You never know, in 10 years’ time they might be joining our team.”