A decade of promoting data skills

2019-07-23 06:25

A total of 12 top learners proved their data skills at the 10th Applications Olympiad during the winter school holidays.

These high achievers were the best of the 5 530 participants who competed during two school-based rounds held in May. At the four-hour finals in Cape Town they used a large database of athletics track and field performances to draft a final programme without events clashing.

For 10 years this Olympiad has challenged learners to apply their knowledge of Computer Applications Technology (CAT) in ways they may not have been taught. It tests inventive skill with Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and databases. Since the “designated list” of school subjects was scrapped in 2018, the demand for CAT is growing due to the essential skills it teaches for further study, work or self-employment.

Tapiwa Chikwanda of Michaelhouse (KwaZulu-Natal) received the gold medal and the IITPSA trophy from Brian Schreuder, Head of Education in the Western Cape.

Two silver medals were awarded. One to Yasmeen Noor De Villiers of Islamia College in Lansdowne. Now in matric, Noor says she enjoys karate, tennis and badminton but does not “have time for them at the moment”. Having been inspired by a robotics course she did at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while visiting the United States of America a few years ago, she plans to study Computer Science at the University of Cape Town. The second silver medal went to Willem Wannenburg from Outeniqua High School in George. Willem, who thinks he is “one of the few people left who finds Mathematics beautiful”, has his eyes set on becoming a statistician and will study Mathematical Statistics at Stellenbosch University. He also has a national gold medal for ballroom dancing and includes acting and music in his repertoire of skills.

Three bronze medals were awarded. Both of Gauteng’s bronze medal winners, Avian de Beer of Hoërskool Randburg and Heather Wimberley from Brescia House, intend to study in the sciences. The third bronze medal went to Arno de Beer from Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch.

Invariably those who reach this level come from schools with enthusiastic CAT educators who are keen to stretch their learners’ skills and vision.

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