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1 March, 2018 - 13:58 By Kate Sweeney

Amazon helps Cambridge student techies gain crush on Python

Technology innovation giant Amazon has hosted a major coding event for students in Cambridge.

It staged the first Cambridge LaunchPad Scholars’ event of 2018, managed by Form the Future CIC, at its development hub at One Station Square.

Year 12 students from colleges across Cambridgeshire attended the event where they were introduced to the coding language Python and learned how to build an Alexa skill.

The teams came up with a diverse range of Alexa skills, which they tested on their Echo Dots, such as a language translator, riddle game and holiday planner. 

The two winning teams, who were selected for their outstanding teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills developed “Holidays!”, a skill which suggests seasonally-relevant holiday destinations, and “Weekly Planner”, a scheduling tool that manages professional, personal and social engagements. 

The winning students will attend a prize trip this summer, alongside sixth form students from other schools and colleges taking part in Cambridge LaunchPad. 

The programme encourages young people to consider STEM subjects and careers, and aims to address the gender imbalance in further education and industry. By introducing students to volunteers who are passionate about their careers and inspiring role models that break gender stereotypes, students can see that certain industries, like technology and engineering, can be accessible with a wide variety of job roles on offer.

David Hardcastle, senior manager at Amazon, said “When opening our new Amazon Development Centre site in Cambridge, we were keen to ensure that this new investment not only created new jobs but also provided new opportunities to help capture the minds of the next generation of scientists who live locally. 

“That’s why we decided to work with Cambridge LaunchPad and to engage with schoolchildren so they can learn more about the exciting possibilities that STEM can offer.”

Anna Aldred, STEM Outreach and Cambridge LaunchPad project manager from Form the Future CIC, added: “The opportunity to engage with LaunchPad is so valuable in itself, but for students to be given the opportunity to work with technology that they may have in their houses, and with such a household name like Amazon makes the impact of LaunchPad so much greater.
 
“When a student is able to relate their learning to their everyday lives, it embeds the new knowledge and experiences to a much greater extent than when learning is presented out of context.”

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