On Tuesday (13/11/18), @liam and I visited Springburn Academy in the north of Glasgow to participate in BIMA Digital Day 2018. This annual nationwide event sees digital industry experts visit secondary schools to spend the day with students aged 13–16, inspiring them into careers in digital technology.

The event offers kids an insight into the types of careers available, plus advice on how to get started. They then have the chance to work in teams on challenges set by event sponsors BBC Studios and The English Football Association.

Meeting our executioners

We pulled up at the school gates around 8:30am and waited at reception in anticipation of the morning stampede. Kids of different ages bustled through the doors, stopping briefly only to draw us that “Who is this strange person?” glance that kids specialise in, before returning to their normal routine. The class teacher, Ms. Rendall greeted us then escorted us to her classroom. The large room was home to twenty computers and as many students, comprised mainly of 3rd years with the addition of a few keen 2nd years.

We commenced with a presentation by Liam introducing Greenhill and what we do, including visual examples of our projects. Next, I talked for a few minutes about my role in Quality Assurance and Release Management including an insight into what happens on a typical release day.

After our presentations, Ms. Rendall took over and showed a compilation video about working in the digital industry.

Videos and presentations over, it was time for the fun stuff! The kids were split into four groups and assigned their first challenge.

The Challenges

1: Promoting a Kids’ TV Show

For their first challenge, the kids were asked to to come up with ideas on how to promote a new BBC television show called Earthlings aimed at children and young adults. Ms. Rendall, Liam and I circled around the tables and sat with the kids while they brainstormed ideas. At first it was like pulling teeth trying to get nervous kids to talk, but after a while they started to warm to the task. Advertisments via posters and social media were popular answers.

The kids then moved to the computers to put their ideas into action. We provided them with links to various online tools for creating logos, websites and videos.

We faced an unexpected challenge within a challenge when we found that some of the online tools were blocked by council restrictions, but this provided the kids with a nice little introduction to problem-solving! And without too much trouble we were able to identify suitable alternatives.

The kids had a great time coming up with logos and adverts. One talented girl hand-drew her own logo and it was brilliant. Most pupils were really focussed on the challenge… although some were somewhat diverted by the opportunity within Warp Studio to make cool versions of Mario of Super Mario fame. When I asked how, exactly, that relates to the concept of Earthlings, they replied matter-of-factly that “Mario is on the Earth”.

2: Increasing engagement with Women’s Football

After a short break, we progressed to Challenge #2, sponsored by the English FA. This challenged the kids to work out how they would use digital technology to increase the number of people following the England Women’s Football team in the forthcoming 2019 World Cup in France. Additionally, the kids were asked to generate ideas for encouraging more girls aged 8–16 years old to try playing football at their local club.

Once again we split the kids into groups and asked them to start brainstorming. This time they were more forthcoming with their ideas, likely due to now being more familiar with the process but also perhaps because they could relate more easily to football. Once we received their submissions, Liam and I reviewed the work and highlighted good ideas, selecting a winner for each challenge.

The winning submissions were sent to BIMA to be entered into their national competition.

Overall Thoughts

The kids were brilliant. They were a lovely bunch who came up with some great ideas and were enthusiastic and excited about the challenges. Their final execution may not solve any of the world’s problems just yet but that wasn’t for lack of trying.

I thoroughly enjoyed my back to school experience and look forward to BIMA Digital Day 2019.