5 November 2014

High school students solve algoritmic problems


The Department of Computer Science (DIKU) at the University of Copenhagen has started a collaboration with the Danish Academy for Talented Youths (ATU). So far DIKU has hosted 4 events for the bright young people. At the final workshop on november 5th, the students eagerly absorbed the new knowledge about efficient problem solving.

The lecture hall at Frederiksberg Campus, where nearly 40 high school students have shoved up this rainy November day, is buzzing with the lively hum of concentration and inspiration. Søren Dahlgaard and Mathias Knudsen, two young computer science teachers, have introduced the subject of the day, and the students have thrown themselves over the assignments with great energy.

Today, they are about to wrestle with computer science in the shape of fibonacci numbers, factorial functions, and Python programming. However, it is the online puzzle game, RoboZZle, intended to make the students think about recursion, that raises the most interest - giving rise to both puzzlement and some laughter - as the little rocket races around the board at the directions of the programmer.

"I feel ready to start the computer science education"

Anna Josefine Mortensen is a senior at Roskilde Gymnasium, and she is happy to have been introduced to computer science.

- I think it has been interesting. I understand programming better now, and I'm probably more likely to do some programming myself. We have been given some tools for programming, for instance we have been introduced to repl.it, which is a webpage for writing small programs, she explains.

The high school students gathered here today are all in their senior year, and they have been enrolled in the ATU program since their junior year. In the two years that have passed, they have been exposed to a wide range of academic subjects, which have been valuable in demonstrating what kinds of university educations there are to choose from. Anna, who specializes in math and physics, has found ATU especially helpful for determining what major she won't choose in college. For instance, now she knows that she has no interest in Business Case Computation while she is very impressed with Urban, Energy and Environmental Planning at Aalborg University.

Viktor Suadicani is a senior at Ringsted Gymnasium, and he has already determined that he wants to become a computer scientist. The ATU computer science program, thus, has not helped him make up his mind, but rather it has been valuable in helping him anticipate what his future education entails.

- I have considered medical school, but then I discovered computer science at an open house event at University of Copenhagen. I spend a lot of time on computers and I like programming, and that is why I set my mind on becoming a computer scientist, Viktor explains.

Since then, Viktor has visited DIKU as an intern, and now he participates in the ATU computer science program.

- I have learned a lot. I have gained an understanding of Python, and I never thought about recursion before now. I also got familiar with the way computer science is taught at DIKU. As a result, I feel I have gained some pre-knowlegde about computer science, and I feel ready to begin the education, he concludes.

More pictures from the event