Members of the Facebook generation got the chance to look at the security of social networking sites, as part of a Middlesex University project designed to inspire the scientists of the future.
Secure communication was one of more than a dozen practical workshops that were being run as part of the Digital Futures event on November 16 and 17.
Other sessions included introductions to artificial intelligence, computer-aided design and robotics.
Academics from the University’s School of Engineering and Information Sciences hoped the event would encourage more young people to consider studying science after they leave school.
Event co-ordinator Dr Serengul Smith said: “Nationally we need to do more to promote science and technology among schoolchildren. The event’s aim was to give schoolchildren and college students an insight into what science means away from the classroom.
“School pupils or college students often come to us saying that maths can be boring, or that science is difficult – but when they see what we do they see that it’s fun.
“We have been running Digital Futures for four years to try and break down the barriers to studying science or engineering courses at university. The atmosphere on the day was brilliant and it was very successful.
“Nationally there can be limited interest amongst young people for science and engineering subjects, leading to a shortage of engineers. We hope that events like Digital Futures will go some way towards closing the gap between supply and demand.”
More than 300 schoolchildren visited the University’s Hendon campus as part of the event. During the day students had access to a choice of more than a dozen workshops, each designed to give young students a practical experience of the ground-breaking science that’s being led by researchers at Middlesex University.
Students were able to look at the way computer games are designed, how products can be designed and tested on a computer screen and look at the security that surrounds social networking sites.
They were also able to look at the field of robotics, including sessions on robots designed to dance and move like spiders.
Mr Osman Nur, a teacher from Whitefields School who attended the event, said: “The day was very interesting for our students. They were all very excited about the taster sessions especially the workshops based on getting to know more about game designing and programming games. They appreciated finding out about the different courses they can choose at Middlesex University, how ICT is taught in universities and the possible careers in the ICT industry.”
Digital Futures was part of a programme of events run by the University's School of Engineering and Information Sciences to encourage more students to consider studying science. They believe it is already having a positive impact on the numbers of young people in the area who are choosing to study science at college or university.
Dr Smith said it is also an opportunity to support teachers in the design and delivery of their curriculum. “This is not only for the children, it’s for their teachers too. It’s a chance for them to see what we do and to see if we can help."
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