A Canberra student who taught himself how to code has won a prize in an international competition.
Canberra Grammar School year 8 student William Laverty was excited to win the Swift Student Challenge run by Apple.
The 13-year-old spent about two weeks working on his winning game called Fetch, where the user throws a ball to a dog moving across the screen.
He got a coding book when he was in in year 3 and read it cover-to-cover. Then he sought out more information on websites to build up his coding skills and knowledge.
At school he joined the Code Cadets, a group that gathers weekly after school to learn different coding languages and tinker away on projects.
"I like being able to design apps and software that people could use that would help them or entertain them," he said.
"I usually start with like the technologies I'd like to use and then I work out an idea after that for how I want it to look and what the end goal would be."
He's already made two apps, including an app that lets the user make music on a piano and an app for recipes. He's also the youngest student in the school to have a drone licence.
As part of his prize he has access to the World Wide Developers Conference 2021 (WWDC21), a seven-day conference with Apple to learn about the latest developments in coding. Usually that would mean a trip to the United States but this year he'll be joining remotely because of travel restrictions.
Thirteen Canberra Grammar School students have won the Apple scholarship since 2015.
Head of digital innovation at Canberra Grammar Matthew Purcell said the win was a testament to William's drive to work independently on the project.
"William is our youngest ever scholar and I think it just shows that it doesn't matter if you're in year 12 or in year 8, if you're passionate about wanting to do this kind of project it's certainly within your reach," he said.
The school started a software development course in 2012 with 40 year 9 and 10students. Today there are more than 200 students studying it as an elective in years 8 to 12, while the year 7 students do a mandatory semester to try coding.
The school has seen excellent results from senior students in the course, including Zack Noyes who came first place in the Higher School Certificate last year.
"The vast majority of students that finish up with us in year 12 go off to university to do software engineering or advanced computing and they say that the skills that they've learned here greatly assist them," Mr Purcell said.
To succeed in software programming, students need to be able to break down a large problem into smaller parts and know how to research a problem and ask for help, either online or from peers.
"Given that we're in a space that we'd like to teach the students the real cutting edge technology, we're constantly changing our courses every year," Mr Purcell said.
"So, for example programming code that we taught last year wouldn't actually run any more this year because it's moved on."
William hopes to follow a career in software development, focusing on entertainment. With the ACT's technology sector growing at the fastest rate in the country, it's unlikely he'll ever be out of a job.
While his parents scratch their heads at the concept of coding, William isn't fazed by the rapidly-changing field.
"I think that most people look at it as being very hard but it doesn't take long to understand what it means."
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