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Dr Sandra Moffett, Lecturer of Computer Science at the University of Ulster, Magee ,with St.Colmcille PS pupils Caithilin Hughes and Abbie McLaughlin

Young school pupils are to learn from computer experts at the Magee campus in a novel University of Ulster outreach project.Primary 6 and 7 groups in the North West will get practical experience in business and technology in an initiative that will give them a first taste of higher education.

The programme, involving 12 schools over three years, was launched this week in the Great Hall at Magee with an interactive event that demonstrated the possibilities of technology.The Widening Access in Primary Schools (WASP) project is the brainchild of the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems at Magee. It is funded by the University’s Access Agreement, which is a key instrument in Ulster’s acknowledged success in providing University opportunities to people of all backgrounds.

Dr Sandra Moffett, a Lecturer of Computer Science, who is leading the project, says: “The WASPS initiative is focused on providing a series of ‘hands-on’ practical workshops to encourage Primary 6/7 children to enhance their creative and business skills using technology.“ 

In the first year, four schools have been selected -- Holy Child Primary School, Creggan, Fountain Primary School, St Colmcille’s Primary School, Claudy and Donemana Primary School. Each will work on a three month long project to develop an advertising campaign on a topical area.  Pupils will work in teams of five and each team can either select a topic from a range provided by our staff, such as safety on the Internet, or formulate an idea of their own. 

“The teams will attend a workshop for a half-day per month and get instruction on how to develop an advertising campaign from the ideas’ stage through to planning and implementation using techniques such as storyboarding, software application scripting, movie making and animation. 

Dr Moffett said: “The aim is to develop the pupils’ conceptual, creative and marketing skills. In addition, transferable skills such as communication and presentation skills will be developed because pupils will work as part of a team to create their campaign.”

Each team will present their idea and campaign to an external panel, followed by a major prize ceremony. 

Professor Bob Osborne, Chair of the University’s Widening Access and Participation Committee, welcomed this initiative as “an excellent example of the University’s engagement with primary schools in order to stimulate pupils’ aspirations towards entering higher education. The University is committed to an extensive series of outreach projects such as WASPS as part of its Access Agreement”.