The next generation of computer whizzes

A Dundee primary school could be home to the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg – thanks to an innovative new course.

Children at Ardler Primary School attend ‘Code Clubs’ to learn how to create computer games and animations.

Teacher Jennifer Smith said: “We take the big challenge of designing a game and split that into manageable steps – using programmes called Scratch and Python.”

It’s lunchtime for the children and Jennifer is assisting 16 children in primary 6 and 7 to create their own games. Jennifer first took it upon herself to attend a few ‘coding’ classes before teaching it to the children.

She said: “It’s like learning a new language, and the kids pick it up more quickly than adults. The children have taught me a lot too.

“They are around computers a lot. I think just knowing how to work them is not enough now – they must be able to be in charge of what a computer can do.”

“The kids love it because it’s empowering. They are in control of what they produce and can keep building on them. They can share their games for others to play or develop further.”

code club

Code Club kids concentrate on making computer games at Ardler Primary School.

 

The children have been taking part in the classes with much enthusiasm for 6 weeks now. They began by following instructions to produce games together – including the popular mobile game Flappy Bird.

Jennifer added: “The possibilities for the children are endless. We look at different software and what programmers like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have produced and the children aspire to that.”

Primary seven pupil, Leoni Doig, has made a new game called Dodgeball. The 11-year-old goes into detail about the tools she has used to make it.

She said: “It’s one of my favourites to play. The actual coding is the best bit and seeing if it actually works after.”

In her spare time she likes to play computer games. In particular she likes Minecraft – an electronic version of lego where players can create characters and work together to build 3D constructs in the online fantasy world.

She said: “I love Minecraft, I would play it 24/7 if I could.”

Her friend, Amy McDonald, another Primary 7 pupil added: “She even gets up before school to play.”

Ten-year-old Amy is creating a game called ‘Dragon Tig’ where the player must collect dragons that appear next to a Dracula’s Castle to earn points as time runs out.

Amy said: “I’d like game testing or coding as a job because it’s creative, you can make random things and it is fun. You can do what you want and keep trying things to see if they work.”

The pair also enjoy a game called Bottle Collector which a previous team of school children from Ardler won at Games Jam – a popular digital event held in the city.

They are often split into teams to make games together and learn from each other. Teacher Pamela said: “They can help each other with debugging problems, and push one another. It’s addictive and fun.”

Another primary seven pupil busily engaged in her game making, 11-year-old Kristen Bradley said: “My brother is a coder. He’s in high school. He’s good at spelling and maths and that helps because if you make a spelling mistake in coding it shows up as an error.”

Kristen is working on a game she has named Boat Race, but she has chosen to make it in space with the aim of bypassing obstacles to reach different planets. She points out various boosters that can be used to make player go faster.

Education convener Councillor Stewart Hunter said: “The work that is going on at Ardler Primary and schools across the city is truly inspiring.”

Jenni Mackay, Dundee’s Education Support Officer in Digital Learning, said: “Coding and Code Clubs are allowing pupils to identify skills for learning, life and work which will be key to their futures and enabling them to maintain and support the already vibrant digital industry in Dundee.”

Advertisements

Love Stories – Dave and Nessie

Couple celebrate 50 golden years together

A Dundee couple have achieved the rare feat of celebrating their wedding at the same venue twice – 50 years apart.

On 27th November 1965 the Queen’s Hotel in Dundee provided the venue for the wedding reception of Dave and Nessie Sinclair. An astonishing 50 years later this grand hotel played host to their Golden Wedding anniversary celebrations on 27th November 2015.

Queens Hotel

The Queen’s Hotel today. Many a celebration has been hosted at this impressive brick building which dates back to 1878.

 

Their sons, Neil, 44, and David, 48, and a grandchild Michael, 17, were among many who attended this special event.

Dave said: “It was a good turnout. There were some faces there from our original reception. Some of them are still with us.”

Dave worked in the Process Department at D.C. Thomson for 35 years before retiring. His wife was a Pharmacy Dispenser for 30 years.

The couple, from Downfield, first met as teenagers. Sharing an interest in music, together, they decided to start a band.

The Tele quizzed Dave in an attempt to find out the secret of their epic 50 year marriage.

How did you meet? “Nessie was 16 and I was 18 and a half. We were both interested in music. I played drums. We were in a band called Esplins and Nessie was the band leader and played the accordion. Esplin was her maiden name. Our band retired in 1997.”

Where did you go on your first date? “We were all about playing music. We used to dance and visit the JM Ballroom in the Marketgait where the G Casino is now. We also liked to go to the cinema.”

JM Ballroom

An advert for the JM Ballroom – a popular dance venue on Tay Street which first opened in 1954. 

What is your secret to a good marriage? “We share everything, the good and the bad, and respect each other.”

Any annoying habits to divulge? “That would end in divorce. We don’t talk about things like that.”

 

What has been your favourite memory together? “Travelling all over Europe together. Regular visits to Edinburgh to visit son Neil and take in Fringe shows including comedy, theatre and musicals.”

Charity shop service awards

It’s party time for British Heart Foundation volunteers this week as they celebrate the Murraygate stores 1st Birthday.

Assistant Manager, Pamela Devlin, said: “The birthday party is a thank you to our volunteers. They help the fight against heart disease and are responsible for the shops ongoing success.

“We are having a buffet at the shop and awarding ‘yearly service’ awards to 5 of our staff as well as some other certificates.”

The store – which sells clothes, accessories, bric-a-brac and books – has around 60 volunteers. Some volunteers offer 2 hours of work every week whilst others help out on a full-time basis.

The store is currently offering a raffle for customers with all ticket proceeds going to baby heart monitors.BHF-Logo[1]

Manager Tracy Perrie added: “We also want to say thank you to our customers and the general public for their donations. Some walk some distance with items for the shop and the goods they bring down can be quite heavy too.”

Anyone who is interested in volunteering can email Pamela at d39@bhf.org.uk or call her on 01382 205625.

The British Heart Foundation campaign and fund research projects which help to protect heart health.

 

Your View – Tea Time

VisitScotland, showed that only 47% of people in households of two or more sit down as a family to eat dinner every day. We asked when do you have your main meal and who do you eat it with?

1 Teressa Anderson.JPG“I sit down with my husband, daughter and grandchild at 5pm. We eat in the living room using lap dinner trays. It’s good to spend time together and discuss the day.”

Teressa Anderson, 65, Retired Support Worker from Douglas.

2 Samantha Duthie.JPG“About 5pm I sit with my partner and baby in the living room. I cook during the week and my partner who used to be a chef cooks at the weekend. It’s an important time to catch up; I don’t believe people should be on their phones.”

Samantha Duthie, 23, Mum from Douglas.

3 Keshia Cordiner.JPG“I sit with my fiancé at 6 or 7 o’ clock when he gets home from work. I usually cook because he burns everything. Family time is something we value.”

Keshia Cordiner, 26, Disability Allowance from West End.

4 Margaret Young.JPG“I have tea on my own in the kitchen about 6pm. When I had family we always sat together. It was definitely an important time to discuss issues and tell them off if I had to.”

Margaret Young, 80, Retired Clerkess from Broughty Ferry.

5 Bruce Rowe.JPG“Myself and my wife have our main meal at 6pm. We cook and have the occasional take-out at the weekend. I love when our family are up and we have dinner together.”

Bruce Rowe, 65, Food Train Volunteer from West Ferry.

6 Robert Keddie.JPG“I always sit down with my partner and the kids at around 5/6pm. We enjoy cooking but get a take-away as a treat once a month. It’s good to get everyone together.”

Robert Keddie, 25, Marine Engineer from Mid Craigie.

Your View – Morning Routines

Nestle has developed a slow release caffeine technique so your morning can give you energy all day. What’s your morning routine?

1 Jackie Fox.JPGI usually hit snooze on the alarm about 40 times. Then I’m in a rush to get out for 6am. I’m up before the kids – but I’m always running late.

Jackie Fox, 40, Barber and Cleaner, Craigiebank.

2 Wilma Drummond.JPGI get up to feed the cats. They’re a couple of gluttons. They’re very vocal and come up to my bed at about 5am.

Wilma Drummond, 65, Retired Office Worker, Blackness Road.

3 Kristen BlackIt’s my 3-month old kitten, Kuros, who first wakes me up with a facial wash. My cats, dog and fish all need breakfast before I have mine. I then have a cup of coffee, fags and prescription medication.

Kristen Black, 41, Finger Print Expert, Broughty Ferry.

4 Colin MooreMy alarm goes and I get up 10 minutes after that. I have a shower to get the body going. It’s up, shower, then work depending on my shift. I have a cup of tea when I get to work.

Colin Moore, 52, Security, Douglas.

5 Scott GraemeI get up quickly after my alarm to shower and have breakfast – usually a hearty porridge. I’m ready in 30 minutes. I’m out before the kids, drive to work and get a coffee there.

Scott Graeme, 34, Civil Engineer, St Andrews.

6 Ciaran RussellI shower first before I do my hair. I have a healthy breakfast and a black coffee. This is embarrassing to admit but it takes me about 40 minutes to get ready. I didn’t have time to style my hair today.

Ciaran Russell, 17, Games Development Student, Stobbie.

Plans announced for Christmas lights switch-ons around Dundee

A SERIES of Christmas lights switch-on events are set to be held across Dundee in the coming weeks.

Events will be held at Broughty Ferry, the West End, Whitfield and Lochee High Street, to mark the start of the festive season.

The Broughty Ferry celebration takes place at Brook Street and Gray Street on Thursday November 26 from 6pm, complete with fairground rides, live music and street entertainment.

There will be carol singing from the Eastern Primary School Choir and Downfield Musical Society will be on stage with pantomime-style performances. Glasgow Princess Parties are also coming and will perform songs from Frozen including ‘Let it go’ with lyrics ‘The cold never bothered me anyway’.

The event is hosted by The Broughty Ferry Traders’ Association and some of their members will be there dressed as Christmas themed minions.

image[2] (2)

Chairman Steve James said: “It’s due to be a bumper event. The kids love it and come out in droves. It’s got busier every year with 2000-3000 coming along last year and we expect the same turnout this year.

“It’s smaller than other Christmas Lights events in the city but that makes it more personal.”

“It means a lot to the neighbourhood and it’s a special occasion so we try hard to make it a good event. It’s our way to say thank you to all the people who come to Broughty Ferry and use the businesses here.”

The lights will be switched go on along Brook Street and into Gray Street at 7pm. There will be children’s prizes and free mince pies and mulled wine. Santa will also arrive on his colourful sleigh.

Broughty Ferry themed bags for life and calendars can be purchased. All donations will be split between 8 charities, including RNLI, Alzheimer’s Research, and to local groups including Broughty Ferry Brownies and Guides.

image[2].jpg

The West End Chrismas Lights will be illuminated on Wednesday November 25 at 7pm, with events beginning at 6.15pm.

Dundee City councillor Fraser Macpherson said: “There’s a children’s concert and Scottish singer Sheena Wellington will perform.

“People gather for the lights near Seabraes at the grass end, that’s at the bottom of Airlie place.”

The Lochee and Whitfield Christmas lights will be turned on during the evening of December 8.

The Lochee event will be at 6.30pm while the Whitfield lights will be switched on at 5.30pm. The locations are still to be confirmed.

Lochee counsellor Tom Ferguson said:

“It is a time for families and communities to enjoy themselves together and let all other things be put to rest. Modern families can celebrate in Lochee the good, old fashioned way.

“Some families lack money and find this time of year harder than others. It’s a time to think about them as well and for everyone to be included.”

£1,004 raised for Deaf Links

A fundraiser brought in more than £1000 for Deaf Links and Tayside Deaf Hub.

Cafe picture

Guests at the fundraiser with some refreshments in the café.

 

Vikki McLaughlin, volunteer advocacy worker for Deaf Links, said: “I’m very happy to announce that our event was a complete success.

“This money will greatly help us to carry on our work within Tayside.”

Signed Songs R Us choir provided entertainment on the day. The choir translate songs into visual language using British Sign Language.

Choir

Signed Songs R Us pose for a photograph at the fundraising event.

 

A total of £1004.60 was raised. The money will help improve the services in Tayside that Deaf Links provide.

Deaf Links promotes the independence and rights of Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and deafblind people. They also provide training, information, advice and support to deaf people.

Would you consider getting private health care?

1 Alex McLean.JPG“No, it’s too expensive. Why would someone who is unemployed want private healthcare?

“People with loads of money go for private healthcare.

“It doesn’t offer an improved service as far as I’m concerned.

“It isn’t much better anyway.

“The standard of care is much better now than in the past.

“There’s more research going on and there’s a cure for almost everything.

“I suppose if you have got money you can go ahead and pay for your own healthcare. I don’t mind if they do that.

“It might help reduce the waiting times and there would be less onus on the NHS.

“I’m all for the NHS.”

 Alex McLean, 47, calligrapher from Whitfield.

 2 Murray Anderson.JPG“No, we are all equal and should receive the same NHS treatment.

“Private care is for the rich or those with insurance from their workplace.

“It slows up NHS treatment by it going to the private sector.

“It takes resources away from the NHS because they train up medical staff and then they go off to work privately to make big money. 

“But, it’s their choice where they work and if they get better money working privately.

“It would be good if they stayed to work in the NHS and help to get the queues down.

 “I’m a socialist and I’d stick to using the NHS.”

 Murray Anderson, 61, bus driver from Broughty Ferry.

 3 Patricia Roberts.JPG“No, I would never consider private healthcare.

“I don’t have the money for that kind of thing and I feel the NHS does a very good job.

“I’ve been treated at Ninewells Hospital quite a few times in the past and received very good care every time.

“I’ve never had to wait long for treatment and was cared for very well by the staff.

“Good healthcare should be available to everyone, not just those that can afford it.

“Also, there would probably be no benefit for me at my age to start using private healthcare.

“I’m happy with the work the NHS do.”

Patricia Roberts, 71, retired cleaner from Douglas.

4 Demileigh Whyte.JPG“No, not really because of the cost.

“I’m studying social studies at D&A College at the moment so I don’t have much money.

 “Maybe in a few years I would consider using it if it had better treatments available than the NHS.

 “If private healthcare was all that existed then I would have no choice I would have to use it.

“But that wouldn’t be fair on poor people or all those who couldn’t afford it.

“I had an operation when I was little, when I was only four. I don’t remember much but I know from what I have been told that I was given good care by the national health service.”

Demileigh Whyte, 17, social studies student from Douglas.

 

School Timetable Changes

Secondary Schools in Dundee test new changes in timetables. The changes mean the time children finish school will vary on different days.

Here are some local’s views:

1 Lynne Isaacs.JPG“It would be absolutely terrible – it will crucify the working parent. I’m a foster carer with school children at various schools outside of Dundee. It would mean parents will have to come out of work early or the kids would be left at home unsupervised. This would give them more time, up to two hours, to have friends over and get up to mischief. It would be impossible to get out of work for three, it’s unreasonable. They should offer extra activities at the end of the day instead, like team games and compulsory PE.”

Lynne Isaacs, 60, Foster Carer from Broughty Ferry.

2 Paul Anderson.JPG“I’m a Janitor at a school and it makes no difference to me. It would make a difference to the parents as they would need babysitters. When my kids were younger, it was a struggle to get home in time. The extension on some of the days would mean more time for extra school activities so I can see how it might benefit them.”

Paul Anderson, 50, Janitor from Fintry.

3 Lisa Cooney.JPG“It will affect people who work. My child is still in Primary but I wouldn’t be happy if they introduce this before he reaches secondary school. I work Monday to Friday. They changed the hours children finish school in Glasgow in Coatbridge and it confused parents. I’d encourage them to keep to the same hours and they should be set in stone.”

Lisa Cooney, 31, Housing Officer from Broughty Ferry.

4 David Rae.JPG“We had four children who have left secondary now. The timetable change wouldn’t have mattered to us at all. We would still have been able to collect them because our hours were flexible. I used to work as a gardener and my partner in the nursery. Their grandparents were also able to pick them up.”

David Rae, 54, Ex Gardener from Ferry Road.

 

Family’s anguish after dad Kenneth dies at 28

Kenneth McGregor had been in the garden, enjoying some crisps and juice with his three-year old daughter.

The dad, aged only 28, was spending time with Eliana, before he decided to mow the grass.

Kenneth only managed one strip before he fell, hitting his head against a brick wall as he landed.

His fiancée returned home from work shortly after to see Eliana sitting with her dad saying ‘Daddy won’t wake up’.

Kenneth’s fiancée tried to perform CPR but Kenneth could not be saved.

It was established that Kenneth McGregor was the victim of “SUDEP”, a medical term meaning sudden unexpected death due to epilepsy possibly, on July 10, 2014.

Today his family spoke about the heart-breaking incident in a bid to raise awareness of SUDEP.

Kenneth’s mum Edna O’Connor and her husband, Eddie, of Strathmartine Road, are devoting their time and passion to raising funds for epilepsy research – a condition Kenneth was diagnosed with when he was 13.

Shortly after Kenneth’s fiancée found him dead outside she phoned family to let them know what had happened. Edna then received a call at work from her husband Eddie.

Edna said: “I knew from his voice that it was something serious. Then he said ‘we’ve lost Kenneth’.

“We got to the house 15 minutes later.

“I didn’t believe it until I saw him there under the blanket that rescue services had covered him in.”

Eddie added, “Kenneth was a big, gentle guy of 6ft 4, he was full of life and had many friends.

“We want to help with the research into sudden unexplained death so other families like ourselves don’t get faced with the same thing.”

Edna said: “Kenneth was mad on football and loved going to the Scotland matches with his dad, Kenny McGregor, and the tartan army. At his funeral, his brother Kevin and their friends came dressed in Scotland shirts with Kenneth’s name printed on the back and kilts.

“I’m still grieving. I’m not sure how to interpret my feelings. I was a nurse for 37 years but I had to leave because I can’t cope.”

Kenneth suffered his first seizure when he was only 13.

Edna said: “We were unable to control his epilepsy but didn’t get much warning when a seizure was going to strike. It was very distressing and horrible to see.

“When he fell he would often hit something. It would take 20 minutes before he became conscious and we could put him to sleep. He would sleep for maybe four hours after.”

Three weeks before Kenneth died he underwent tests for his epilepsy at Ninewells.

Edna added: “He was kept in and tested over three days because of the seizures and unusual vacant episodes.

“Things were looking positive. He thought that his life would improve and that everything was going to get better.”

Edna added: “I miss his big smile.

“I put a face on and try to continue with my life. But it is hard. I miss him desperately. I used to be confident and now I feel anxious and find it difficult to concentrate. My life will never be the same.”

Edna and her husband, this week, presented a cheque of £1000 to consultant Dr Ian Morrison of Ninewell’s Neurology Department. A second cheque for £2728.34 was presented to Chris Jeans from SUDEP Action, a charity which provides support and counselling for people left bereaved.

Edna and Eddie.png

Edna and Eddie present cheques for their donations to Ninewells Hospital and SUDEP Action.

 

The money raised came from a number of special occasions; a charity night at the Logie Social Club. Kenneth’s brother Kevin, and birth Dad, Kenny, also held a darts competition at the Glen’s Bar, Clepington Road.

The events have included raffles, catering and entertainment from bands including Sorted, Buffalo Soldiers and The Ukes of Hazard and all have been well-supported because of Kenneth’s popularity.

The family hope to arrange more events that raise awareness of SUDEP, and help identify the causes that will allow early intervention to prevent further tragedies occurring.

Christine Jeans, Development Officer for SUDEP Scotland, said: “SUDEP Action help to support bereaved families. There is comfort of being with someone who has gone through the same thing.

“We also raise awareness because we need to know why our fit and healthy family members are dying from SUDEP.”