Scots pupils celebrate centenary of Bletchley Park decoding genius

Pupils studying Computing at high schools across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife, Forth Valley and the Borders came together at Heriot-Watt University on Friday 22 June to celebrate the centenary birthday of Alan Turing, the British mathematician whose pioneering work underpins much of contemporary Computer Science, and who is most widely known for his World War II decoding work at Bletchley Park.

The celebrations included a series of team activities involving code breaking, the Turing Test, and logic. Pupils tried out an Enigma machine simulator on a giant touch table, plant sunflowers to celebrate his work on the mathematics of nature and the Fibonacci series and eat specially designed birthday cakes celebrating Alan Turing's life and work.

Programming challenge winners announced

As part of the celebrations to commemorate the centenary birthday of Alan Turing, the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences held a Programming Challenge for Higher/Advanced Higher / A-Level Computer Studies pupils.

Students were invited to explore the Turing machine, Turing €™s model of computing which enabled him to establish fundamental limitations to what computers can and can €™t do.

A Turing machine is based on the idea of a human solving an arithmetic problem using sheets of paper and a pencil. Essentially, starting with a blank page, a person writes down numbers and formulae, looks back at what they €™ve written already, rubs things out and replaces them with new things. When they fill a page they move onto a new one.

The winners of the Programming Challenge were:

    • 1st place (Scotland)               George Watson's College
    • 1st place (Rest Of UK)       The Blue Coat School, Oldham
    • 2nd place (Rest Of UK)     St Anselm's College, Merseyside
    • 3rd place   (Rest of UK)       Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Cheshire