Category Archives: Learning

year9_success = quantum + computing * python

Our school is taking part in the BBC Schools Report which goes live on 19th March, and I asked some of our Year 9 girls to summarise the two terms of Computing that they have experienced so far since September.  What they wrote was really very enlightening and encouraging, so rather than try to produce a precis of it, I would rather reproduce it in whole below.  What our Year 9s do know is that I am immensely proud of what they have achieved this year, and of what they will go on to achieve.

What we have been learning in Computing @BHSfG – Year 9

In ICT this year, we have been learning how to program in Python using Codecademy, which is the first time most of us had approached this sort of learning platform. We only knew basic information about coding e.g used to create software, but knew nothing about how to code. Now after only a few months, we know the fundamentals of coding and can program a simple questionnaire, which is a great achievement after knowing only a small amount, if not nothing about coding. We are now going a step further than Codecademy and are using ‘ Python Idle’ to program.

This will help us in the future, as many jobs in  will be orientated around computers and STEM, and even if we choose not to go into computing as a career, it will prove extremely useful in almost any job we might choose to persue.

And also if we wanted to go into any jobs like a computer programmer or a computer scientist, we will already have a head start on the other people training for this job, as we have been taught it from a young age.  An example of some of our programming code is below – and it is certain that if we had looked at this code even six months ago, we would not have had any idea what it means!

Python programming - Battleships

We have also been studying Quantum computing, and quantum entanglement and how when particles become entangled in the Quantum world, then one does the complete opposite to the other. This can be explained in more detail in the famous thought-experiment from Schrodingers, known as Schrodinger’s Cat. If you have one cat in a box which contains poison and close the lid, you don’t know if the cat has eaten the poison or not, so all the time the lid is shut, it is BOTH alive and dead at the same time! At this moment in time the cat is in a state called a Superposition. For example, if you put two separate cats in separate boxes (must be entangled) and you open one box the cat will be alive, and if you open the other, it must be dead. When one box is opened and the cat is observed, the cat changes from being in the state of superposition to being either dead or alive. But this defies the laws of physics, space and time!

We learnt that in classical mechanics there would be four outcomes. If we had two boxes with a cat in each box The cats could be:

  • Alive or Alive
  • Dead or Dead
  • Alive or Dead
  • Dead or Alive

However, in Quantum Mechanics there are only two outcomes:

  • Dead or Alive
  • Alive or Dead

This is all because of the fact the cats are Quantumly Entangled, and in Quantum Entanglement one object has a direct relationship with another one, which results in the two objects having opposite states – they cannot both be the same.  So here, the cats cannot both be alive at the same time, or both dead at the same time – they must have opposite states.  You can apply this to the binary world, so instead of dead-or-alive cats, we have binary digits (bits) which are either 1 or 0.

More recently we have been learning how Quantum Entanglement will be able to achieve extremely faster computers using qubits. When bits can both be a 1 and a 0 simultaneously, we call them qubits.  A qubit is much more powerful than just a regular bit – which is either a 1 or a 0 but cannot be both at the same time!) Using quantum entanglement, a quantum computer will be able to entangle the qubits so that they have a relationship to each other, and can hold an exponential number of multiple states!, Therefore computers will be able to simultaneously do millions of jobs or calculations simultaneously. We have been shown an example of a Quantum Computer, which is called D-wave, that has 300 qubits, and the plan is that before long it will have more computational power than the number of atoms in the visible universe!

All of this is at the cutting edge of both physics and science, and we realise that this technology has not yet been fully realised.  However it is fascinating to learn about the potential that Quantum Computing offers, and alongside our improving programming skills, we feel that Burgess Hill School for Girls is really equipping us for this exciting future.

Megan, Issy, Jazz, Elvie – Year 9

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