Mission to Mars Work Experience July 2022 - Software Cornwall

five mission to mars rovers lined up ready to use

Mainly Champions but Mostly Clueless

This July the Software Cornwall (Council Platinum Provider) delivered the award winning work experience Mission to Mars. We provide a week of coding, collaboration, company visits, games and a lot of hard work for 24 students from around the county of Cornwall. It continues with the legacy of giving over 300 students over the last 8 years a taste of working in technology in Cornwall. Some of whom have and are continuing with careers in software development after attending.

Ice Breakers on the Hottest Day of the Year

The Missions start with the students breaking the ice by introducing themselves by creating their elevator pitches. Then practicing them on each other a number of times. It also becomes the first part of their presentation at the end of the week. Once they know who each of them are they split into the six teams to collaborate with for the week.

The teams are now startup companies. Each has to have a name and a set of values they will work to. So they are given some time to work these out. There was The Company, Pigeon Army, International Rolls, Brexit, Mostly Clueless (thank you team for the title of this post) and Firewall Inc™©. Again this information is shared with the others and provides more groundwork for the final presentations. The names and values always raise a smile as they impart to the others how they intend to get along with each other.

Agile and Scrum Tennis

Scrum Tennis in full swing. How many times can the balls be passed around the team?

If a company is going to work together they need a bit of practice. And some guidance as to how to work in an agile environment. For this there is Scrum Tennis. A seemingly simple game involving passing tennis balls. But which team can pass the most times in 2 minutes? Can they perform better a second or third time around? Especially when they hear what the record is. The game gives the participants an opportunity to work and listen to each other’s ideas. Assess what works and what doesn’t. React to outcomes and find ways to be more efficient. A similar retrospective approach on their daily work is also made. The thoughts are put on Post-It notes and added to the list of items to mention in the presentations. After the Scrum Tennis their minds are racing and it’s time to introduce the work.

Team Brexit and Team International Rolls hard at work and about to test the code on a rover.

The rest of the week is primarily spent working through the 18 tasks set to them plus a few bonus ones. Each builds on previous work starting with the simplest of Hello World code. Each task, or story as it is referred to, has a requirement and acceptance criteria that it must pass to be judged complete. These include simply driving in a very straight line, not bumping into objects, avoiding cliff edges and just getting around. By the end of the week the students have a large code base and quite extensive knowledge. Their final coding task is to actually create a performance with the rovers to their own design using the knowledge they have gained. It provides the grand finale to their presentations as the rovers strut their stuff to an audience of VIP and parents.