Nationwide Cyber Treasure Hunt challenges Scottish S2 girls to engage with data science

The competition, devised by sixth year girls from St Kentigern’s Academy, offers winners the chance to attend DataFest 19 in March

A Cyber Treasure Hunt is underway across Scotland, designed to encourage S2 schoolgirls to engage with data science. The competition has been developed by three sixth year students at St Kentigern’s Academy in Bathgate – Rachel Cooper, Catherine Fitzsimons and Amina Tahir, collectively known as Turing’s Testers – with support from their teacher, Toni Scullion.

The hunt, which consists of five consecutive puzzles – the completion of each unlocks access to the next – is now open for entries. Scottish schools are encouraged to pick up the challenge and enter as many teams of four as they choose, with a teacher required to sponsor the teams. The first 24 teams to successfully complete the Cyber Treasure Hunt get the chance to attend the Women in Data Science event at DataFest 19 in March.

Toni Scullion, computing science teacher at St. Kentigern’s, said: “Turing’s Testers began when Rachel, Catherine and Amina were in S3 and joined up to participate in a computing science competition. All the other teams competing were boys in S6. It became clear to them that not enough girls were getting involved with data science. The Turing’s Testers name was inspired by the effort of women in computing science during WWII who didn’t get recognition individually.”

Catherine Fitzsimons, student at St. Kentigern’s and one of Turing’s Testers, said: “We are passionate about computing science and have had so many amazing opportunities ourselves that we want to inspire, encourage and support more young girls to get into this dynamic industry.

“We have always loved taking part in cyber competitions, particularly the problem solving, team work and communication skills involved. We thought launching this Cyber Treasure Hunt would make a great way to give back.”

We are so excited about the future of data science in Scotland because of working with the Turing Testers and seeing what they are capable of. Jude McCorry, Scottish Ambassador for Women in Data Science at Stanford University

30 schools across Scotland, from 16 local authority areas, are already getting involved. The team are keen that a school from every Scottish council participates in the competition, which will go live on December 18.

The Women in Data Science event at DataFest 19 is part of the worldwide Women in Data Science initiative, from Stanford University, which brings together women data scientists and schoolgirls to showcase what a data career looks like, and inspire the female data leaders of the future.

Jude McCorry, Head of Business Development at the Data Lab and Scottish Ambassador for Women in Data Science at Stanford University, said: “We are so excited about the future of data science in Scotland because of working with the Turing Testers and seeing what they are capable of. We have been completely bowled over by them and their teacher, Toni Scullion, doing great work encouraging schoolgirls across Scotland to learn more about data science.

“As Scotland becomes a leader in data science, we want to make sure we’re giving girls the best opportunity to equip themselves with data skills. We’re looking forward to welcoming the 24 winning teams to the Women in Data Science event at DataFest 19 so they can meet some of the leading women in the sector and see what a career in data science could look like.”

For more information on how to enter the Cyber Treasure Hunt,
please click here.