Dunoon Primary School, who fought off the cream of game designers from Scotland, England and Wales to bring home the Kodu Kup, Microsoft UK’s computer programming competition- bringing the prize to Scotland for the first time.
The win endorses Argyll and Bute’s primary schools’ growing reputation for being top of the class when it comes to technology based learning.
Dunoon Primary School’s Pro-Gamers team – P6 pupils Olivia Robertson and Lewis MacKay and P7 pupil Aidan Purdie (now at Dunoon Grammar School S1) – fought off challenges from schools across Scotland to win the Scottish Microsoft ‘Kodu Kup’ at West College Scotland on June 17.
The team was accompanied by Mrs Mary Peek, who guided them during their project. Mary’s keen personal interest in IT led to her establishing a successful after-school computing club, which has fired the imagination of pupils and contributed to the ongoing success of learning technologies within Dunoon Primary.
They then packed their bags to take on the national finalists at a hotly contested match hosted by Microsoft at their UK headquarters in Reading on Monday (July 13).
The team wowed the judges with their exciting game Rural Racers, created from scratch, and impressed them with a business case, marketing plan and promotional goods.The success comes hot on the heels of a technology showcase event hosted in Dunoon by the council’s learning technologies team, attended by 150 primary pupils and their parents. The aim of this event was to encourage young people to think about future career opportunities in the technology sector in addition to showcasing their talents.
The Pro-Gamers had a lot to say about their games based learning:
Lewis said, “I have always been interested in computer games even from a very early age. I love playing them and understanding how they all work. Through Kodu I have learned a whole lot more about programming and everything that goes into a game. I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole process, from teaming up with Aidan and Olivia at the Kodu after school club then starting off with a simple game, using our imaginations and building it up by adding levels, music and seeing the final product in action. The business plans and producing merchandise was very interesting and enjoyable too. And of course the taking part in the Kodu Kup and winning has been the most amazing experience.”
Aidan said, “I feel that working on this project has really helped me develop lots of life skills as well as computer work. It has given me a real interest in learning software programming, so much so that I introduced myself to local software entrepreneur Sam Coley of Samteq, in Dunoon, who has also encouraged and helped me with my coding skills. I feel Kodu has given me a great head start as perhaps I wouldn’t have started so early in programming had it not been for Kodu and Microsoft. The competition has also taught me the importance of marketing and business skills within the gaming world. I intend to continue developing my coding skills in my further education and perhaps may even have a career in game programming.”
Olivia said, “I think the easiest part of this was that we worked together as a team and were able to share our ideas and work together to make a fantastic game. We have all learned more life skills through this experience – confidence, problem solving, people skills, design coding and many more. We all brought different skills to the team and were able to develop new ones.
“I think the most difficult thing was the coding and design; in the coding we added more of the little things that made our game stand out – like the 1st and 3rd person view, the AI racers, the radio and lots more. This was tricky but worth it. The designing part was difficult as we wanted to get the balance right – not too much, not too little, we didn’t want to overdo it and make it too complicated. I think we managed to get the balance right and the effort paid off.”
Chris Forrest, Managing Director, Microsoft Scotland, said, “Huge congratulations to the KoduKup 2015 UK Champions, Dunoon Primary’s ‘Pro -Gamers’ – it’s truly wonderful to see these young people be inspired by technology. It’s all the more impressive when you know that the children and their families have put off their summer holidays to compete! I’d also like to recognise the talent and commitment of all the entrants who have worked so hard, as well as the schools and teachers who have backed them.”
Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Education and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Rory Colville, said, “This is a marvellous achievement. The award demonstrates there are no limits when self-motivation and teamwork combine to create a pathway to learning that heightens the power of deduction. This project provides young people in our schools with excellent ICT skills, and improves their understanding of computer programming and how technologies work, all of which are essential to their future.”
Photographed above are Dunoon Primary School Pro-Gamers (l – r) Lewis, Aidan and Olivia, with classroom assistant Mary Peek, who runs the school computing club and accompanied the pupils to both the Scottish and UK final.