Tapton pupils learn the benefits of elite technology

The Year 9 students were introduced to performance-enhancing tech by Sheffield Hallam University sports scientist, Dr Sarah Churchill

State school children from Sheffield have been exposed to the technology that helps Britain’s athletes in their quest to break world records.

Nearly 50 pupils from Tapton School visited Sheffield Hallam University to spend the day with Dr Sarah Churchill, a leading sports scientist who has worked with governing bodies and elite teams to enhance track and field performance.

The Year 9 students are studying the newly-launched computer science course, designed and funded by the David and Jane Richards Family Foundation (DJRFF), a new UK charity set up to “educate, empower and improve the lives of children”.

They enjoyed hands-on experience with the same high-tech equipment Sheffield Hallam University researchers use with elite athletes and professional teams. These measure abilities and fitness, and gather data points about movement, including force, jump height, jump distance and explosive strength.

Dr Churchill encouraged the children to consider what makes good data, showed them how to capture it, and then encouraged them to question it.

We passionately believe in introducing young people to the possibilities of new technologies, especially in real-world settings where they can see its power to achieve positive change. David Richards, co-founder of DJRFF.org

Dr Churchill said: “I was impressed with the ideas they came up with, which showed a great level of knowledge, understanding and detail. Their questions were of a standard you might expect from some undergraduates.

“We wanted to show the pupils how data can be applied in the real world. Learning how to analyse data does not mean you can only become a data analyst; it means you can broaden your horizons, because data analysis can be applied to anything and everything.”

David Richards, co-founder of DJRFF.org, and founder and CEO of software company and data specialist, WANdisco, said: “We were delighted with the positive feedback from Sarah and her team at Sheffield Hallam University, which we believe shows that our new computer science course is starting to have an impact.

“We passionately believe in introducing young people to the possibilities of new technologies, especially in real-world settings where they can see its power to achieve positive change.”

The DJRFF.org curriculum is introducing pupils to teambuilding, data and predictions, statistics and sports analytics, algorithms, privacy, the internet of things, regulations, visualisation, filtering, etc. The curriculum started at Tapton School in September 2018 and will be rolled out to other schools in the future.