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NICTA man explains why he volunteers for CSIRO's ICT in Schools

'I feel fantastic after the sessions - It's the best part of my job' says volunteer

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Last week, Vulture South launched a campaign in support of the CSIRO's ICT in Schools program, an effort to get IT pros sharing their experience with kids in schools around Australia.

CSIRO tells us our campaign is working: quite a few signed up in the week since we published our first story, but we're still short of our target of 20 new volunteers.

If you've been wavering, perhaps Karsten Schulz's experiences will get you over the line.

Schulz is National Manager of GroupX, National ICT Australia's (NICTA's) program aimed at increasing the number of tertiary ICT student. He's also a former SAP employee, having held positions in the software giant's research labs.

Yes, helping kids appreciate IT is Schulz's day job, but he still finds helping his chosen school exhilarating.

“I feel fantastic after the sessions,” he told Vulture South. “It is the best part of my job – I am quite open about it.”

Schulz started his engagement with his chosen school by bringing an oscilloscope and 3D printer into a class. “I just talked to the children and showed them how I can make a sound and how to change the pitch. The kids see they don't need a very complicated piece of equipment.”

A few weeks later, Schulz received a letter from kids who said they had connected some LEDs to a Raspberry Pi, but were having trouble achieving their desired effect.

On a subsequent visit, Schulz explained their resistor was too big. After sharing some advice and knowledge, the kids quickly cottoned on to things and “A few weeks later and they had hooked up dozens of LEDs and they were running patterns up and down.”

“Doing something and seeing the children pick it up is so rewarding,” Schulz said.

He also finds volunteering rewarding because he feels the teachers he works with appreciate the help.

“There are some teachers for whom IT is a hobby and there are others who are trying hard but they have not suited to it or have not learned the fundamentals. They sometimes think things are very difficult. When an IT pro shows it is something teachers can do quickly, it helps.”

Schulz therefore says volunteers can expect a warm welcome.

“I have always sensed there is a high degree of openness among teachers and they want to give the best to their students. They are very willing to accept mentoring.”

So there you have it. A chance to watch kids grow because of the knowledge you possess and a chance to help teachers to improve their lot.

Details of how you can participate in ICT in Schools can be found here. ®

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