Stephen codes his way to success

PERFECT SCORE: Bowral High Year 8 student Stephen Burg received a perfect score in the NCSS Coding Challenge. Photo: Madeline Crittenden.
PERFECT SCORE: Bowral High Year 8 student Stephen Burg received a perfect score in the NCSS Coding Challenge. Photo: Madeline Crittenden.

He’s only a teen but Stephen Burg is proving to be a whiz with codes and numbers. 

Stephen has been competing in coding challenges since he was in primary school, now in year 8, the Bowral High student is well on his way to becoming a skilled coder. 

Coding is the way of the future and Stephen’s knack for numbers could see him develop software, launch a rocket into space or build a robot. 

He competed in the NCSS Challenge, which is a nationwide programming competition run for secondary school students over a five week period, and finished with a perfect score. 

Students are taught to code in Python 3.6, which is a scripting language used for many different purposes like web applications and scientific research. 

Stephen received a perfect score in the intermediate competition, and also tried his luck in the advanced competition. 

“I got to the third week of the challenge [in the advanced course] which I was pretty happy with because all the other times I haven’t made it past week one,” Stephen said.

Stephen said that while the course was challenging, the problems were very practical. 

“The advanced challenge is all about practical use of coding which is very interesting,” he said. 

It’s had to believe that Stephen has been coding since primary school but the Bowral student said the skill “came naturally”. 

“It just made sense when I first tried it and I really enjoy it.”

Bowral High School is cultivating young maths and science and brains through a new program. 

The STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) program, from students in Years 8 and 9 is a form of project-based learning that provides an opportunity for real world connections. 

Bowral High STEM coordinator Andrew Facer said the program allowed students to solve authentic, real-world problems.

“It gives our talented students like Stephen the opportunity to solve world problems by breaking down the traditional silos to create an integrated classroom,” Mr Facer said. 

So far, STEM students have made models of sustainable homes, designed bridges with the help of Wingecarribee Shire Council, and sent devices into space with the help of NASA. 

Bowral High STEM teachers are working with Sydney University to develop more skills for the program. 

“I would say we are at the forefront of the program in the Southern Highlands and our program has already proven to be so successful,” Mr Facer said. 

Stephen agreed that the program had given students more opportunities. 

“I really enjoy it,” he said, “it’s been good.”

Stephen said that next year he hoped to move onto the next stage of the advanced NCSS Challenge and receive a perfect score.