A team of Australian high school students have placed third at the SEARCC International Schools Software Competition, held at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka last month.
Seerat Noori, Tammy Bui, Thy Mai, and Yehan Navaratne represented St John’s Anglican College Brisbane in the competition.
Alongside their podium finish, they were also the only team with female representatives competing in the event.
The tournament tests students' ability to solve complex programming problems using C, C++ or Java languages, and challenges students with university-level maths problems.
Each team was given a total of four problems to solve in a two-hour period, with 100 points awarded for a correct answer, and ten points deducted for incorrect answers. Bonus points were awarded for completing questions quickly, with time remaining.
Leading the team was Head of eLearning at St Johns Anglican College, Sharon Singh, who spoke about the significance of the competition from a global perspective.
“One of the things I saw was the networks that they formed, the friendships that they form with students from the other schools around the world and also learning different cultures – so it’s more than just the content in terms of having a competition,” she said.
“They’re usually here in Brisbane, taking part in competitions in Brisbane, so to see them go out and hold their head high and represent Australia was just amazing for them.”
The students competing were all part of Ms Singh’s year 12 Information Technology Systems class. This subject was added to the Queensland curriculum in 2013.
The subject teaches skills like coding and programming, and emphasises the importance of problem solving.
Singh highlighted the significance of Australia’s female representation at the competition.
“I think we are very blessed in Australia in terms of how we are promoting women in technology and putting a focus on it,” she said.
“I, for one, am very passionate. When I came into this school, which is about two years ago, my senior class was full of just boys, so having three girls in my senior class is a huge achievement.”
She added that recognising and promoting achievements such as her team’s success in the competition promotes further female participation.
“Giving our girls prominence sets them as good role models for the other young girls,” she said.
“When I talk to the young girls in my school they say, 'it’s for the nerds, it’s for the boys, we cannot do it' and I’m really trying to encourage them that they can.
“I have worked in Asia and I do have an Indian background, and I do know they [India] have a lot of women in technology, but they do not give them the prominence that should be given to them. That is where they fail.”
Singh also thanked the Australian Computer Society for its support.
“I think the Australian Computer Society has contributed to us being a success; they supported us, they encouraged us."