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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON
@alliedpress.co.nz

It is game on as girls start to master the art of coding at Dunstan High School.

Coding, also known as computer programming, is being taught to both boys and girls by head of digital Frankie Boyte.

Boys showed a natural skill for the subject, which was why Ms Boyte had turned her attention to girls in a bid to boost their confidence, she said.

To do that she wanted to establish a “coding club” for girls, which would allow them to learn at their own pace.

“The boys will say ‘there’s something not working, there’s something wrong with my coding, I’ll try to fix it’. The girls go ‘I’m not good at this’,” Ms Boyte said.

She wants to change that attitude.

“I recently watched a Ted Talks video, which spoke about how we teach our boys to be brave, but not our girls. This then becomes part of their behaviour,” she said.

“Boys will have little or no hesitation in playing and exploring. Girls tend to be careful.”

She was watching that trend unfold in the classroom while teaching coding, she said.

Due to the school’s busy schedule this term, not many girls have yet signed up to the club, but among those keen to get it established are Tamsin Hughes and Kat Smit.

The girls have mastered the skill of programming a Sphero robot – a plastic ball, similar in size to a tennis ball.

Using a Kindle Fire, the pupils program the Sphero using an app, via bluetooth, to move forwards, backwards, sideways, or spin on the spot.

They can also change the robot’s colour.

Pupils have also used coding to create computer games.

Kat had some simple words of advice to anyone wanting to give coding a crack.

“Give it a go,” she said.

Tamsin agreed and noted that “you can’t break it”.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she said.

In anticipation of increasing the popularity of coding, Ms Boyte plans to add a further 12 Spheros to the school’s existing six next year.