At 15 years old, Merlin has started her GCSEs at Olchfa Comprehensive in Swansea. Her chosen subjects at GCSE are Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and, of course, Computer Science. Merlin intends to study Computer Science at A-Level and to go on and study either Computer Science or a related subject at University.
Merlin has been attending the weekly, after-school Technoclub at Swansea University for 6 years – back then she was the only girl. Prior to COVID-19, she took part in programmes and activities for older students at the club and as a volunteer, supported younger junior school pupils.
When Merlin first started at Technocamps, she had no experience of coding, just a love of Minecraft, Sherlock Holmes and logic puzzles! Technocamps taught her the basics, starting with Scratch and Logo, and introduced her to encryption techniques. It also provided a community of like-minded young people with whom she could share her passion. Pupils did not study computer science at Merlin’s primary school, so this was particularly advantageous. In recent years, as well as access to the developmental programmes, Technocamps has provided Merlin with mentoring and support, encouraging her to go on and do things beyond Technoclub.
She has also taken part in the STEM Enrichment Programme, run by Technocamps and the SEREN network, studying the role of technology in science, and our STEM Enrichment Club for KS3 and 4 girls at Olchfa Comprehensive School. It started Autumn Term 2019Technocamps’s Summer of STEM activities allowed Merlin to continue learning remotely and develop her programming skills in a range of computer languages, such as Python, Assembly and Greenfoot and further practise her computational thinking.
Merlin has found that she really enjoys encryption and has a particular interest in cybersecurity. She has now completed a residential course and developmental training run by the National Security Council (GCHQ) and is currently undertaking the Cyberdiscovery programme run by the UK Government in partnership with the Sans Institute. She also hold Bronze and Silver iDEA badges (the digital and enterprise equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh Award) – the Gold Award is not yet available. It is Merlin’s intention to have a career in cybersecurity, initially working for either GCHQ or the Sans Institute.
“I feel so lucky to have had access to the staff and learning resources made available by Technocamps (and the excellent Computer Science teachers at Olchfa) without whom, I may never have embarked on this journey. Technocamps has given me skills, experience and confidence, and I hope to make you all proud in the future. Indeed, I feel so strongly about young people and digital rights. I have recently been accepted onto the Children’s Commissioner for Wales Young People’s Advisory Panel and will be making the case for these there.”