The computer coding skills of students at Artarmon Public School were on full display today as part of an innovative new drive to improve digital literacy in our schools.

The Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham joined local MP Trent Zimmermann at Artarmon Public School to see students demonstrate their digital skills as part of the Australian Government’s $10 million Australian Digital Technologies Challenges for Years 5 and 7.

Minister Birmingham said that developing digital skills and knowledge are essential when 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations will require broader science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

“This new program is a top of the class opportunity for students across North Sydney’s schools and across Australia,” Minister Birmingham said.

“We all know the nature of work is changing before our eyes. This new initiative will help inspire the next generation of students to develop the critical technology skills they need to be successful in our future workforce.

“The Australian Digital Technologies Challenges will give the next generation of coders not only the technical skills they need to take advantage of our changing workplaces, but also valuable life-skills such as critical analysis, creative thinking and problem solving.”

The free challenges are being created by The University of Sydney’s Australian Computing Academy and complement a suite of targeted school initiatives designed to boost STEM participation under the Turnbull Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

At least 23 challenges will be delivered with the aim of reaching 200,000 year 5 and 7 students across Australia by 2020, and supporting as many as 3000 teachers. The challenges include lesson plans and automated online evaluation as well as providing professional learning and a helpline for teachers.

Mr Zimmerman said the enthusiasm of Artarmon Public School students for new challenges and ways of learning made them excellent contenders for the Digital Technologies Challenges.

“This is an opportunity for students to access an intensive four to six weeks of activities as part of the new national digital technologies curriculum to test their coding skills against each other,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Here at Artarmon Public School, a $50,000 grant from the Turnbull Government’s Digital Literacy School Grants will also help to train and develop a digital technologies teaching team, as well as develop an exciting new robotics program.”

Applications are open until 11 August for schools and other organisations to apply for grants of between $10,000 and $50,000 to support the implementation of the digital technologies elements of the Australian curriculum.

For more details and how to apply visit www.education.gov.au/digital-literacy-school-grants-dlsg

To see what challenges students are meeting under the Australian Digital Technologies Challenges for Years 5 and 7 visit the Australian Computing Academy website www.aca.edu.au