Mossman student recognised as one of Australia’s best and brightest


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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WATCH THIS SPACE: Mossman State High School student Connor White has been recognised as one of Australia's best IT talents. IMAGE: Howard Salkow - Newsport.

DAVID Warner is his favourite cricketer and he enjoys playing the sport with his friends; he has a passion for science, mathematics and graphics; and when he has some free time, he likes to study coding.

Fourteen-year-old Connor White, a Year 9 student at Mossman State High School, is a shy and committed individual whose aptitude for anything technological and information-driven, is such that he will have little difficulty finding his niche in this technologically-driven world once he enters university.

Clearly one of the rising stars to emerge in the shire, Connor was one of 60 of Australia’s brightest technology-buffs who spent time at Macquarie University in Sydney last month to participate in an advanced digital technology summer-school.

After achieving the right result in a maths test, he was selected to join the first digIT cohort, a program that will help take students’ skills in digital literacy, science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the next level.

Connor said participating in the program was exciting, interesting, fun and provided the opportunity to advance his mathematics in a practical situation.

“I met with students my age from across Australia, who were keen and wanted to push themselves, like me,” he said.

“Excursions to the Data Arena and Google showed us how programming can be used to benefit real life. We learned about the different languages of coding and how coding is used in real life.

“By the end, we were grouped with mentors to help us create our own functional program. I feel proud and honoured to have been given this opportunity,” Connor said.

His love for coding has now also been recognised and he will participate in a trial – being undertaken by the School of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Atherton – to develop a senior coding course.

The head of the school, David Platz, said although Connor is only in Year 9, his application and expression of interest has been accepted.

“We are keen to assess the course with him as he has been identified as gifted in this area,” said Platz.

As Connor’s life gets more hectic, he is still unsure of his plans post school.

“I have not really given it that much thought, but I would like to involve something with a maths component, programming or computer science,” he said.

With the help of the Australian Mathematics Trust and Australian Science Innovations, digIT will run a hands-on extension and mentoring program to expose students to all aspects of technology through guest lectures, interactive sessions, practicals and field trips.

Programs like digIT are critical for this and future generations of students because employment trends show that 75 per cent of Australia’s fastest growing careers demand skills in digital literacy, science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Connor and the other digIT students will follow up their four-day residential summer school with a six-month program that includes another residential camp and professional mentoring.

For more information please visit the digIT website.