Computer race held at Bletchley Park won by 9-year-old schoolgirl

Connie with BBC microbit
Connie with BBC microbit

A nine-year-old is celebrating winning a computer race at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.

Held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the museum, The Grand Digital computer race involved seven computers and one calculator. These devices, which span a period of eight decades, were given 15 seconds to find numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.

Named after the 12th century Italian mathematician, the Fibonacci sequence contains number found by adding the two numbers preceding each part of the sequence, starting at 0 or 1 – 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and so on.

Connie, of Christ the Sower Ecumenical Primary School, wrote a programme for a BBC micro:bit, a basic computer, which managed to find 6,843 numbers in the sequence in the allotted 15 seconds.

In comparison, an iPhone 6s found only 4 numbers in that time – but it did use Siri voice command and response, thereby demonstrating just how far computers have come.

Kevin Murrell, trustee of The National Museum of Computing and the Grand Digital race starter, said: “This is the first time that machines from so many decades of computing have raced together. We don’t think such an event could happen anywhere else in the world!

“The spectators loved it especially as our youngest operator won the race with a BBC micro:bit. Nine-year-old Connie wrote the Fibonacci program herself – a fantastic achievement for someone so young and an inspiration for young computer scientists everywhere.

“I suspect this was the first of many Grand Digitals as we have many other original working computers, skilfully restored by our museum volunteers, that could enter the race to demonstrate the advance of computing.”