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Swansea’s creative computer science collaboration inspires young minds with a new project bringing together machine learning and one of Wales’ landmark scientific discoveries.

The innovative schools’ outreach programme Technocamps have once again joined forces with award-winning company Theatr na nÓg for a collaborative project bringing some of the most cutting-edge technology skills to children and young people around South Wales.

Based around the play The Butterfly Hunter, their newest project brings together magical storytelling about Welsh scientist Alfred Russel Wallace (a contemporary of Darwin whose globe-trotting adventures led him to independently discover the theory of evolution) and skills to catalogue nature through machine learning.

It Is the first project that Technocamps and Theatr na nÓg have partnered on in Wales since making their popular collaboration international at Hong Kong’s SPARK Festival earlier this year.

Since their establishment in 2003, the Technocamps team has delivered workshops in programming, games development, robotics, coding and app development to more than 45,000 young people in Wales. Their latest workshops exploring machine learning, are some of their most ambitious to date. Machine learning is the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in systems, allowing them to automatically learn and improve from experience without further programming. Thanks to this collaboration, children across South Wales have had the opportunity to try this out for themselves, creating their own intelligent programmes which, over time, learn to catalogue different bugs and insects they find into defined species.

These innovative workshops have been offered to primary schools across Swansea as part of a schools’ package around Theatr na nÓg’s latest production The Butterfly Hunter and will soon be available to the public with resources available on the Technocamps website. An original play from Theatr na nÓg celebrating the life of Welsh scientist Alfred Russel Wallace, The Butterfly Hunter was written by Artistic Director Geinor Styles, who was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for her work bringing high quality theatre to children in Wales.

Born in Llanbadog, Monmouthshire, and later resident of Neath, Alfred Russel Wallace discovered the Theory of Evolution independently of Charles Darwin in the 1850s – in fact his paper on the subject was jointly published alongside Darwin’s own. Since his death, Wallace’s role in one of the greatest discoveries of all time has almost disappeared from history while Darwin’s is recognised by children across the world. The Butterfly Hunter takes young audiences on an adventure through Wallace’s life and voyages through the Brazilian jungle and Malay Archipelago, highlighting the importance of biodiversity and conservation along the way.

The production has been running as part of the Theatr na nÓg’s annual schools’ theatre project throughout September and October 2019, in English and in Welsh language as Heliwr Pili Pala. However, two free public performances at The Dylan Thomas Theatre, complete with Technocamps workshops, will be taking place as part of the Swansea Science Festival on Saturday 26th October 2019.

English language workshop: 2.30pm, Vivian Room, National Waterfront Museum
English language performance: 4.30pm, Dylan Thomas Theatre
Welsh language workshop: 10.30am, Vivian Room, National Waterfront Museum
Welsh language performance: 12pm, Dylan Thomas Theatre

More information can be found on the Swansea Science Festival website by clicking here.

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