Quantum Coding for 11-year-olds

15/02/2020

By Olivia Kelly 

Not only has the quantum information society put on a diverse range of events within the university, it has also been busy enlisting the quantum physicists of the future. On Saturday 15th February, <Qu|In|Soc> members Maria, Olivia, Ben and Abhishek ran a quantum computing workshop at the Oxford Physics Department's Marie Curious event. 

Aimed at girls aged 11-14, Marie Curious hosts workshops on a wide range of science topics (from using liquid nitrogen to making goo!). The aim of the event is to show the girls some of the amazing things that scientists do every day and to give them the confidence that they too could be the ones working in science departments in the future. There is no better way to do this than to see other females doing just that; therefore, it seemed fitting that quantum information society's own founder and president, Maria led the workshop and co-presented with Olivia. 

Ben, Abhishek and Maria had previously created a workshop for university students, but the new team's challenge was to adapt this for schoolchildren with all ranges of coding ability. We aimed to teach the girls enough about coding and quantum mechanics to be able to carry out set tasks within a 45-minute workshop, whilst also giving them a quick insight into some of the most important and interesting concepts in quantum mechanics - such as Schrödinger's cat, entanglement and multiple universes! The girls listened attentively and learnt quickly, flying through the tasks. The workshop's level was just right with all the girls making good progress on quantum 8-balls and quantum emojis - and some going on to test their code on real IBM quantum computers. All four members of the <Qu|In|Soc> team were on hand throughout the workshop, ready to help the girls to solve the problems they faced in their coding and to answer some of their good questions.

The girls left both having learnt new things and having had their interest sparked. Hopefully we'll be seeing some of them in years to come in physics departments and even the Quantum Information Society!