28 January 2020
Skills in computational thinking took Year 7's Fleur to the final of the Bebras Challenge, held at the University of Oxford, as she explains below.
Bebras (beaver in Lithuanian) is an annual competition for children aged between 7 and 18, run in 40 different countries. The focus of the competition is to inspire young minds to discover an aptitude for computational thinking and to become excited about computing. Computational thinking is an important part of deciphering problems and building algorithms to solve a problem, often using computer code.
Around 260,000 children took part in the UK Bebras Challenge this year and the top 200 were invited back to national finals. In my age category, 80,000 children took part and only 50 went through to the final, of which I was one.
The final was held at the University of Oxford on Saturday 25 January, and I spent the day at the Department of Computer Science. We listened to lectures on programming and machine learning and were taken on a tour of Hertford College, where I saw what being a student at Oxford might look like. The Challenge itself involved answering 25 difficult logic questions in 40 minutes. It was much harder than the first round! Very few managed to finish.
At the end of the day, there was a prize giving ceremony in the college Chapel where the Professor of Computer Science and Philosophy made a presentation to all the finalists. The students coming 1st, 2nd and 3rd all received medals, and everyone else received participation certificates. I narrowly missed achieving 3rd place with 195 points (3rd place was 208 points). Professor Millican said “Well done, that’s a very high score!” when he gave me my certificate. I felt very proud of my achievement.
Afterwards, we had some time to explore some of the beautiful buildings in Oxford, including the Hertford Bridge (modelled on the Bridge of Sighs in Venice), the Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum, as well as having a quick peek at some of the College quads. Overall, it was an inspirational experience, and, if given the opportunity, I would gladly do it again.
Fleur, Year 7