First national IT Week Ireland conference in Athlone will teach ‘Coding with Cows’

Pictured is Lucile Riaboff, VistaMilk Postdoctoral Fellow, UCD.

VistaMilk SFI Research Center will offer an exciting educational segment on “coding with cows” at the inaugural National Computing Week conference in Athlone later this month.

Students, teachers, school leaders and representatives from all areas of the education sector will be present to promote and learn about computing.

The schedule of events for Ireland’s first-ever national IT Week conference.

Helen Van Eesbeck, PDST Post-Primary STEM Team Leader, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this conference as part of Ireland’s first-ever Computing Week, which we are coordinating with the support of the Ministry of Education. The aim of the week is to promote computer science to the general public and make schools aware of the wide range of support available to them from industry and the PDST if they choose to add this fantastic new subject to their Course of Study. Computing is a subject suitable for all students and has applications in most aspects of today’s modern world, especially in the agricultural sector.

With this in mind, VistaMilk is joining the event by offering “Coding with Cows”, an educational program designed and developed by doctoral and post-doctoral students. Coding with Cows is an interactive resource that provides participating elementary school students with the skills to manage livestock activity data using coding software.

As part of the process, they develop their own coding skills and get output information about cow activity during the day, health status and breeding events. In doing so, the children improve their knowledge of coding but also of the cattle farming systems in Ireland. Students can also understand how coding can be used to improve a farmer’s working life by informing them in real time of what the cows are doing and when something is wrong.

Teachers can also use the Coding with Cows game to educate their students about coding and farming systems in an innovative, fun, and interactive way.

Helen believes the Coding with Cows program is relevant to the goals of PDST saying, “Our goal is to provide new and innovative learning opportunities that will enhance the skills and teaching abilities of our members. VistaMilk’s Coding with Cows is certainly one such program that meets this criteria and we are delighted to be able to showcase their involvement at the conference. Designed and developed by PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, some fresh out of high school, we think it will resonate with teachers as it’s a fun way to introduce students to coding and learning. computing. “

Lucile Riaboff, VistaMilk postdoctoral fellow at UCD, who imagined and led Coding with Cows, added: “This educational program has been designed to inform the next generation of computer scientists about the impact and importance of coding in our everyday life. As agronomists and computer scientists, we use activity data collected from the neck collars of cattle to gain insight into the daily activity, health and reproductive status of cows using the artificial intelligence. So we thought it would be great fun for kids to role-play the process used in our research to follow a day in the life of characters like Gus the Aberdeen Angus, Hefin the Hereford, Hallie the Holstein Friesian or Josie the cow Jersey using coding software. specially designed for young audiences. “

“The agricultural industry is being revolutionized through the use of computing with robotic milking machines, grass imaging technology, automatic drafting systems and the use of drones and of GPS for precision farming.With Coding with Cows, participants develop an understanding and learn skills that are used in agriculture, but can be applied in many industries.

Coding with Cows is a free resource. Teachers can receive training in using the program or can arrange to have VistaMilk representatives attend their schools. For more information visit

More information on Computer Science Week can be found on the @PDSTcs Twitter account using the hashtag #csweek or by emailing [email protected]

The first ever National Computing Week conference will take place at the Athlone Springs Hotel on Thursday 13th October.

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