Programming schools have been held in Khust for the 5th time in the summer, and since last year in the winter as well. During the week, for 6 hours a day, children study algorithmic programming, compete with each other, have fun and go on excursions. Believe it or not, such schools help overcome apathy, employment among graduates and find yourself in the digital world. In August of this year, there will also be school, because even under difficult circumstances, we need to think about education, the development of those who will rebuild a free Ukraine.
Do not be surprised that young people are ready to study in the summer for a whole week. Programming schools have an atmosphere of collective acquisition of knowledge, competition, and victories, and at the same time there is a social component, so this format attracts students from Transcarpathia, other regions, and even from abroad.
We tell you why programming schools are so popular and how they influence the development of the IT sphere.
Training was planned, and a social project came out
Three algorithmic programming schools are known in Ukraine: in Kremenchuk, Rivne, and Khust. The lecturers of each of them are well acquainted with each other, so in past years they came with teams to each other.
The idea of the Transcarpathian programming school came to Oleksandr Mica – Doctor of Technical Sciences, Head of the Department of Information Management Systems and Technologies of UzhNU – after participating in the Kremenchug school as a lecturer. He realized that there is a demand for such training among Transcarpathians, and 2-3 days of training is not enough for preparation. So I began to seriously think about the format and venue.
In order to gather teams from different parts of Transcarpathia and other regions for a week, a suitable facility was needed that would be suitable for study, accommodation, food and leisure. Thanks to the long-standing friendship between Oleksandr Mitsa and the informatics teacher of Khust boarding school, Mykola Dron, as well as with the support of the then director Mykhailo Onofrei, they chose this educational institution. Yes, in the summer of 2017, the first programming school was held here. At first, only Khust schoolchildren participated, later Uzhhorod schoolchildren joined. At the third school, children from 7 regions of Ukraine studied algorithmic programming. Olesya Kalinych, head of the Department of Education, Religions and Nationalities of the city of Khusta, and Oleksandr Bachkai, the current director of the Khust Multidisciplinary Lyceum No. 1 named after Ivan Magula (the new name of the Khust Gymnasium-Boarding School), Oleksandr Bachkai, are helping to run the school.
In the process of holding the schools, the organizers realized that this format not only promotes learning, but also helps children decide on their future profession and find themselves. On the one hand, the Transcarpathian region is one of the best at the all-Ukrainian stage in terms of programming, and on the other hand, the level of computer science teaching in rural areas is very poor… Schoolchildren from Uzhhorod, Khusta, and Vynogradov usually win prizes at competitions.
In the regions of the region, a car-free tour of the Olympics, which was still relevant 30 years ago, is still being held. The reason is the lack of programming knowledge among teachers. In order to improve their knowledge, courses are periodically organized for teachers on the basis of UzhNU.
School format: 6 full days of study + a competition day
Transcarpathian school lasts 7 days. The first 6 days they hold lectures, teach algorithmic programming, solve many problems, and on the 7th day they compete with each other. Yes, the lecture lasts an hour and a half, then 4 hours – solving problems, then lunch, and from 15.00 to 18.00 – a period of additional solutions, that is, analysis of problems with the help of the lecturer.
— It is almost impossible to force a child to work with programming all day. But during school, one helps another, there is collective support, there is a desire to win. You see, creating an appropriate atmosphere is a big deal, – assures Oleksandr Mitsa.
More than half a hundred people participate in the schools. By gender, boys predominate, but there are also girls. Most often, pupils from Uzhgorod, Mukachevo, Vynogradov, and Svalyava join programming schools. There are significantly more people willing to study than there are places. This year, participants from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Volyn, Zhytomyr region and Ternopil region registered.
Therefore, the Zakarpattia School of Programming in 2022 will have four leagues: the first for winners of regional and all-Ukrainian Olympiads, the second for winners of city and district Olympiads, and the third for those who can at least solve problems related to arrays , and the fourth is for beginners. After receiving applications from participants, a qualifying round is held to determine the level of participants. There are no age restrictions.
The basic language of training is the C++ programming language. During school, its members publish the newspaper “Novinka++”.
This year, the school will be held from August 21 to 28, but recruitment has already been completed. Those interested in participating in the following schools are asked to send information about themselves to the e-mail address [email protected].
The lecturers of the school are well-known teachers, trainers, authors of textbooks in Ukraine, as well as successful students who come from abroad, talk about their work, and give prizes to the participants. The department of information management systems and technologies, headed by Oleksandr Mitsa, has a powerful community of graduates working all over the world. Enough to list it and “Snap inc.” Los Angeles, Google in Munich, Facebook in London, Microsoft in the USA and Prague, etc.
The atmosphere of competition motivates, and after training and competitions you feel more confident in programming
There are many stories about how schoolchildren enter the weakest league, and the next year win the strongest. We decided to ask participating schoolgirls and a student-lecturer what attracts them to the programming school.
Thus, Vasyl Merenych, a student of the Faculty of Information Technologies of UzhNU, was a lecturer at three programming schools. He recently passed two interviews for the position of an employee of the London office of “Facebook”, so he confidently shared his experience and knowledge with schoolchildren. In his opinion, the most important thing during such events is the atmosphere.
— School participants are busy all day: they work with lecturers, participate in competitions, analyze tasks. The atmosphere of competition, when the leader is determined every day, encourages and motivates to better results. When I was a lecturer at my first summer school, it was unusual, I lacked experience. At that time, he played only one league, and this year, during the winter school, already two. Read three lectures, prepared material and tasks for the topic. Among the participants were those who were in the second league in the summer, and had already moved to the first during the winter school. This is a good achievement, says Vasyl.
Anastasiya Tovtin, an 11th-grader of the Uzhgorod General Education Specialized Boarding School with in-depth study of individual subjects of the Zakarpattia Regional Council, was a participant of the programming school twice – summer and winter. The girl became interested in programming in May of last year, worked hard and got into the first league at the summer school. She was advised to take part in the school by a computer science teacher who also teaches at UzhNU – Serhiy Vapnichyny. He prepares children for All-Ukrainian programming Olympiads, in which Anastasia also participates. This academic year, she won the regional stage and is now preparing for the All-Ukrainian competition. He believes that after participating in the summer school, he began to feel much more confident in programming.
— Here, every day for 6 hours, we solve problems, study functions, algorithms, structures… The first two days are difficult to get used to a busy schedule, but breaks and various activities help. The school is useful for children of all ages. It gives a lot of new knowledge, acquaintances, an opportunity to improve in programming, – notes Anastasia.
It is worth noting that programming schools and courses for teachers are not the only projects of the Faculty of Information Technologies. Before the pandemic, a 9-day student international school was held on the basis of UzhNU. Its participants were teams from Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, and Poland. In 2019, such an event gathered 140 young programmers.
Young people’s interest in IT education grows with every year observed at the university. The number of applicants to the mentioned faculty has doubled in the last 5 years. Among the current students are 20 prize winners of regional olympiads in informatics. At the same time, teachers note: the general level of preparation of applicants is not very high. Therefore, programming schools have also become an answer to the problematic situation, they help prepare for admission and improve the level of knowledge.
In addition, this is a good opportunity to interest young people, to give them a real chance for a future in Ukraine. This is confirmed by the eyes of schoolchildren, full of enthusiasm and the desire to win. And the first successes necessarily encourage new achievements, and not only in the IT sphere.