Half of the medal winners at the South African Computer Applications Olympiad were girls – beating more than 6 000 participants countrywide.
However, the winner overall was a boy, Taariq Asmal of the Tshwane Muslim School.
The Computer Olympiad attracts 38 000 participants in the First Round, but only 3 500 go on to the Second Round which requires programming skills. In 2010, for the first time, there was a Second Round for Computer Applications – such as spreadsheets, databases, word processors and presentation tools. It was a pilot project, and the organisers expected around 500 participants – instead there were more than 6 000.
The 2010 teachers strike delayed the Final Round till January 2011.
The top eleven of the 6 000 were invited to a Final Round in January 2011 to find the best Computer application user in South Africa.
Four of the eleven finalist’s were girls – most unusual for a technology based Olympiad. More surprising, three of the six medal winners were girls and one was only in grade 11 when she beat 6 000 others to reach the finals.
Guest speaker, Prof Louis Fourie, Head of Information Systems at the University of the Western Cape, stressed the shortage of Computer skills in South Africa and the opportunities awaiting the participants.
The awards were handed out by Carina Labuscagne, CAT & IT Co-ordinator at the Department of Basic Education and Bersan Lesch, Deputy Director, Talent for Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Careers, at the Department of Science and Technology.
Gold Medal winner was Taariq Asmal, the 2010 Deputy Head Boy of the Tshwane Muslim School. Taariq was the school’s top student in Computer Applications Technology, History and Mathematics, and he is also interested in soccer and cricket.
He has registered at the University of Pretoria to qualify as a Computer Engineer.
Silver Medals were won by two girls Helen Denny and Melodé Rozenkrantz thereby beating all but one of the more than 6 000 entries. Helen is a regular Olympiad participant; having participated in the Maths Olympiad, the English Olympiad, the Bible Olympiad, the Debating Competition and a number of Eisteddfods. Helen was only in grade 11 at La Rochelle Girls’ High when she won her place in the finals.
The academic interest is balanced by her interest in netball, tennis and swimming. Not surprisingly she is Chairperson of the Debating Society and her schools grade 11 Dux.
She plans to study Law and Accounting at Stellenbosch University in 2012.
Melodé Rozenkrantz is from Linkside High in Port Elizabeth and was the only Eastern Cape participant in the finals. Apart from doing Olympiads, she loves ballroom dancing and cricket. She is registered for a BSc Mathematics and Computer Science at Stellenbosch University.
Bronze Medals were won by Conrad Mönnig, Steven Ontong and Adriëtte le Roux.
Conrad is from Penryn College in Nelspruit and was the only finalist from Mpumalanga. Steven Ontong is from Hottentots-Holland High in Somerset West. Conrad is registered for Mechanical Engineering at Tukkies while Steven will do Electrical Engineering at Stellenbosch University.
Adriëtte le Roux, who won a bronze medal, has also achieved in many other fields. She was a prefect in 2010, came fifth in the Bilingual Olympiad and was first in the Backsberg Art Competition. Her writing has been published in “English Alive” and her artwork has been used for a calendar and an anti-drug poster. Commented judge, Doctor Pam Miller: “One could see the artistic talent. She designed by far the most original letterhead.”
In the final school exam, Adriëtte had the highest marks for CAT in the Western Cape. Olympiad administrator, Peter Waker, explained: “The Olympiad and CAT are not the same. The Olympiad required much more from participants than the school subject. It gives learners an opportunity to demonstrate what they know in ways they were never taught.”
Adriëtte started her studies for a BA degree at Stellenbosch University this month. She intends to become a teacher.