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Young people triumph at national Festival of Code

Three young people from Bristol have been recognised at a national event for young coders – holding off competition from across the country.

Chris Chapman and brothers Rhys Marsh and Owen Marsh won the ‘Code a Better Country’ category at the Young Rewired State Festival of Code 2014 with their app CityRadar. The event took place at Plymouth University from 1 – 3 August and marked the end of a week of experimentation where young people gathered at coding centres across the country.

During the annual Festival of Code young people use freely available open data to make websites and apps that address ‘real-world’ challenges. CityRadar allowed people to use their mobile phones to quickly report issues in their community such as graffiti or fly tipping.  It was programmed to send a report to the local council – who could then flag the issue when it had been resolved.

Chris, Rhys and Owen developed the app at KWMC over just four days, before heading to Plymouth with their mentor Tom Mortensson from the University of Bristol, and other young coders and mentors. A total of six teams from KWMC presented their apps to judges and one team also reached the semi finals with their app Weekly Shopper.

The University of Bristol and Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) collaborate with us during Young Rewired State, with their staff, students and volunteers acting as mentors to the young people.

Through Young Rewired State, we want to support young people to make apps that encourage social action – and we hope that coders will be inspired to explore new skills, ideas, and careers.

This is the second year that we’ve been a Young Rewired State centre and CityRadar is the second success story to emerge. An app conceived by five young people in 2013 is soon to be rolled out across Bristol as part of European project IES Cities. The app, Democratree, will allow Bristol residents to identify potential sites for trees to be planted.

Chris Chapman, a member of the winning group with CityRadar, said: “Young Rewired State has been a very enjoyable experience for me – I think it’s an incredibly important opportunity for any young coders who want to go and make something, and strongly recommend it to young coders looking for an opportunity to show off their skills. You get to see some fantastic talks from people in the industry and meet loads of amazing new people.”

Mike Bartley, local Chair for the Chartered Institute for IT (BCS), said: “We wanted the week to be fun and practical, allowing participants to see a whole new side of computing. It not only focuses on code development but also on the creative process, team work and communication skills – which most companies regard as key skills for working in the sector.”

Caroline Higgins, Outreach Manager from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol said: “At a time when many schools feel under resourced and lacking in computing expertise, activities like Young Rewired State and Digimakers are playing an increasingly important role in inspiring the next generation of engineers and technical innovators. Since the launch of our outreach programme we have seen a huge demand for this kind of informal learning activity. Working with our partners KWMC and BCS allows us to pool resources and have more impact, particularly in areas of Bristol that need it most.”

Beccy Thomas, Young People’s Programme Manager at KWMC, said: “We are excited to be building on the success of Young Rewired State with our new schools programme. KWMC will be working with six partner schools in South Bristol including Victoria Park Primary and Bridge Learning Campus Secondary Phase to develop new and creative ways of teaching young people ICT and computing. It’s unique to have an arts organisation working with schools in this key curriculum area.”

For more information please contact Beccy on 0117 903 0444.

Image: Rhys, Owen and Chris (left to right) with their awards



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