I have had great fun working with schools via STEMNET, an organisation that IBM supports and encourages us to work with. Recently, I was approach by a group at a local secondary school who wanted help with some programming for a High Altitude Balloon experiment. They are getting a lot of hints and tips from a group at UKHAS – and this site has a lot of info about the Arduino single board computer that is used to control the experiment (camera/GPS/thermometer) and log data. The problem was that neither the teacher nor the 6th Form students had any experience about programming computers – and they were not able to understand what the code was doing. Now these students are pretty bright and enthusiastic, and the teacher was very good and highly motivated – they just had not been exposed to anything that explained how computers work, or how to programme them. All UK school children do some form of ICT education – but this does not appear include anything about “proper” computing – more about PowerPoint skills!
I saw a lot of press about this state of computing education in schools but it was only this incident that really brought home the magnitude of the problem.
This is something all of us can help with. Join STEMNET, go and find a local school and help them really understand computers.