Computer whizz-kid conquers a tricky task


A Grade 12 pupil from Monument Park High School in Kraaifontein was a runner-up in the mind-bending Computer Applications Olympiad.

While a pupil from Islamia College, Tauhir Ahmed took the top honours, and there were five other medallists, David Woodall, who lives in Kraaifontein with his parents, was one of the top 10 out of 10 983 pupils who entered the finals, held last week at Bergvliet High. In the intense six-hour challenge, the 10 top minds had to use common computer applications such as word processors, spreadsheets and databases to solve a set of problems.

The final round included two one-hour tests and a four-hour project on the theme of the Summer Olympic Games. In the project component, they were asked to prepare an A3 infoposter which the Olympic committee could use in schools to promote the Olympics.

They also had to teach themselves a new skill that is not in the school curriculum. For this they were given an eight-page document headed “How to create a pivot table and manipulate it”, to which, according to the media release, one pupil wrote after the project, “I didn’t even know computers can do things like that.”

David, 18, was initially a little reluctant to speak to Northern News but told us he had been using computers since the age of 13 and, that his achievement made him feel more confident and filled with determination.

While he had not entered the challenge before, he said, “CAT is one of my choice subjects at school. It is where I learnt all I really know about these apps.

“My interest is mostly academic as most careers require one to be computer literate. The questions presented within the Computer Applications Olympiad were challenging as (they) tested not only my knowledge that I had gained but also a lot which is currently not within the current curriculum.”

He said the first computer he used was “an ordinary home computer” and when he is not puzzling out apps he enjoys reading, writing, and drawing.

And while he hopes to study further and one day become a teacher, his other option is to run his own bakery.

He said the competition was meaningful to him as “by entering a competition like this, it allows one to gain confidence and experience. It is a great opportunity for one to improve upon ones self”.

At the awards dinner, the guest speaker was Barbara Mallinson, who founded Obami, a digital learning solutions company that helps schools, mainly in Africa, to manage digital learning, free to hundreds of less advantaged schools.

“Entrepreneurs”, said Ms Mallinson, “both see and chase opportunity.

“Entrepreneurs have grit, take risks and persist through the hard times. Entrepreneurs drive innovation.”

She challenged the finalists who had seized the opportunity to take part in the olympiad, not only to seek rewards for themselves, but also to create opportunities for others.”Aside from the winners in the Western Cape, three hailed from the Eastern Cape, one from the Free State, three are from Gauteng and one from KwaZulu-Natal.