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Cyber Treasure Hunt Aims to Inspire Young Data Scientists

Ross Kelly


Cyber Treasure Hunt

The national competition aims to inspire young women to engage with data science and other STEM subjects.

A nationwide cyber treasure hunt underway across Scotland aims to engage S2 schoolgirls with data science.

The competition was devised by three sixth-year students at St Kentigern’s Academy in Bathgate. Rachel Cooper, Catherine Fitzsimons and Amina Tahir, known as Turing’s Testers, also received support from their teacher, Toni Scullion.

30 schools from 16 local authorities in Scotland are already involved in the initiative, and the team say they are keen to draw a school from every Scottish council to participate. The competition will go live on 18th December.

Cyber Treasure Hunt

The treasure hunt will consist of five consecutive puzzles, with the completion of each puzzle unlocking access to the next.

Schools across Scotland are encouraged to take part in the challenge and enter as many teams as they want; with a teacher required to sponsor each team. The first 24 teams to successfully complete the Cyber Treasure Hunt will get the chance to attend the Women in Data Science event at next year’s DataFest conference.

The Women in Data Science event at DataFest 19 is part of a worldwide movement by Stanford University. The Women in Data Science initiative aims to bring together female data scientists and schoolgirls to showcase what a career in the industry entails.

Fitzsimons said that following the “amazing opportunities” she and her school friends have had in computer science, the trio wanted to give something back and inspire more young women to enter the industry.

“We have always loved taking part in cyber competitions,” she said. “Particularly the problem-solving, team work and communications skills involved. We thought launching this Cyber Treasure Hunt would make a great way to give back.”

Championing Data Science

Toni Scullion, Computing Science Teacher at St Kentigern’s said Turing’s Testers began when the three students were in S3 and participated in a computing science competition.

The trio noted that they were largely competing against boys and so they embarked on a mission to inspire young women to engage with science subjects.

“All the other teams competing were boys in S6,” Scullion explained. “It became clear to them that not enough girls were getting involved with data science. The Turing’s Testers name was inspired by the effort of women in computing science during WWII who didn’t get recognition individually.”

Scullion is one of a number of women in Scotland helping to champion gender diversity in STEM subjects. In October 2018, she was recognised for her work at the annual Scottish Women in Tech Awards.

Jude McCorry, Head of Business Development at The Data Lab and Scottish Ambassador for Women in Data Science at Stanford University, said: “We are so excited about the future of Data Science in Scotland because of working with the Turing Testers and seeing what they are capable of.

“We have been completely bowled over by them and their teacher, Toni Scullion, who are doing great work encouraging schoolgirls across Scotland to learn more about data science”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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