Kids coding competitions in NSW

A couple of years ago I had a cup of coffee with a local who was just starting setting up coding classes for kids. This was right on the leading edge of when they were becoming a thing and there wasn’t really a road-map about how to proceed. Since then, Nicola O’Brien’s Code Rangers have gone from strength to strength and both she and the kids she teaches have achieved some pretty cool stuff.

This is Nicola’s round-up of all the coding competitions for kids in NSW.

Coding Competitions for kids — NSW Edition

Nicola O’Brien – Code Rangers

There’s a lot going on to encourage kids to code at the moment, and we all know how motivating a prize can be! We’ve taken a look at the local New South Wales competitions and there’s a lot on offer in the next few months. Coding and technology competitions each have a slightly different focus and tick different boxes. Here’s our simplest possible guide to what they’re all about so you can find the right competition for your budding techpreneurs, coders, and makers. Read to the end for details on each competition and all the links you’ll need.

Generally, competitions are a great way for students to apply what they know in a fun context, and to create something which is important to them. Coding kids can get that real-world experience of coding to solve a problem, or just polish up their coding skills by entering a competition. The task can feel daunting on the more open-ended challenges, where it’s tricky for students to go from the hazy days of brainstorming and blue sky thinking to the lonely evenings of debugging or gaffer taping. The perseverance and grit they develop though is where technology and coding competitions can be of real benefit to students, once the certificates have faded. As a parent or teacher, encouraging kids to stay on track, and break those big ideas down to manageable chunks will really help them.

As an aside, we’ve not covered robotics here as that’s a whole other topic with some amazing forums for kids that enjoy building robots and battling them or using them to solve challenges.

Thanks to http://www.aussieeducator.org.au/resources/competitions.html which has a great list of all the competitions Australia wide across all subject areas — it’s well worth a browse.

A simple guide to what the coding competitions are all about

Competitions, If your kids like building stuff and want to work on the weekend:

● Young ICT Explorers

● Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero

● iAwards

● Stem Video Game Challenge

● Screen It

If your kids can already code and want to challenge themselves:

● Prog Comp

● NCSS (harder levels)

If they want to learn to code and test themselves as they go:

● NCSS

If they’re team players and want a group project:

● Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero

● iAwards

● Young ICT Explorers

● STEM Video Game Challenge

● Screen It

If they’d like to use screwdrivers and solder:

● Young ICTE Explorers

● iAwards

If they want exposure to industry and the real world:

● Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero

● iAwards

If they’re already proficient and want to apply their skills in a practical context:

● Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero

● iAwards

● Young ICT Explorers

● STEM Video Game Challenge

● Prog Comp

If they want to do an activity that can be completed in the classroom:

● NCSS

● Bebras

● Prog Comp

If you are a teacher and want a competition that comes with a curriculum to guide students:

● NCSS

● Search for the Next Tech Girls Superhero

● Screen It

If they’re after the big cash:

● Prog Comp ($5,000!)

If they’re all about putting the ‘A’ in STEAM:

● Screen It

● STEM Video Game Challenge

If you want access to tutors or mentors as you go:

● Search for the Next Tech Girls Superhero

● NCSS

For the big kids only:

● Prog Comp

● STEM Video Game Challenge (years 5+)

● iAwards (most junior category is up to year 9)

If they like a tutorial / online question submission and marking style of learning:

● NCSS

● Bebras

If you don’t mind baking cupcakes to possibly boost your child’s score:

● Young ICT Explorers (live judging events in many States)

If you’re good at finding missing semi-colons or commas and don’t mind doing something a few times before it’s marked correct (a vital coding skill):

● NCSS

Now that you’ve found a technology or coding competition that suits, here are the details you will need.

Australian STEM Video Game Challenge

Run by: ACER Foundation, a charitable organisation underwritten by the Australian Council for Educational Research.

Age Limits: Years 5 to 12

Time input: Students develop a playable video game over the competition period — open ended.

When: Register from 1 May and submit by 25 August

Outcome: A playable game based on theme ‘reaction’

Complexity: Varying levels catered for.

Collaborative: Yes

Website: https://www.stemgames.org.au/

Bebras

Run by: CSIRO

Age Limits: Years 3–12

Time input: Low: online competition

When: Twice a year, then next round is September 2017

Outcome: Spark an interest in computational thinking and ICT by completing online challenges.

Complexity: Varying levels catered for.

Collaborative: Less

Website: https://www.bebras.edu.au/

iAwards

Run by: Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA)

Age Limits: Two student divisions: up to year 9, and year 10 and above

Time input: Students work on a project to exhibit — open ended.

When: Already underway for 2017, state winners announced early June

Outcome: Students develop a technology innovation that has the potential to, or is already having a positive impact on the community

Complexity: Very open-ended challenge which can be as complex as you make it.

Collaborative: Yes

Website: https://www.iawards.com.au/

National Computer Science School (NCSS) Challenge

Run by: Grok Learning / National Computer Science School

Age Limits: 4 streams are available suitable for students from upper primary school to high school age.

Time input: Weekly coding challenges with teaching materials for students to complete at their own pace.

When: From 31 July to 3 September

Outcome: Learn to code by reading online materials and complete coding challenges.

Complexity: Varying levels catered for.

Collaborative: Less

Website: https://groklearning.com/challenge/

Prog Comp

Run by: Computer Science and Engineering School, UNSW

Age Limits: High School Students

Time input: Low: the main round takes place over 2 hours on a school day.

When: Registrations close 2 June, competition takes place on 16 June with a grand final in September

Outcome: Solve programming problems provided on the day of competition in a team of up to 3.

Complexity: Challenging problems for students with coding experience.

Collaborative: Yes

Website: https://www.engineering.unsw.edu.au/computer-science-engineering/courses-programs/high-school-computing/progcomp

Screen IT

Run by: Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Age Limits: All school aged

Time input: Students develop a video game (or animation or short film) around the theme ‘time’ — open ended.

When: Entries due September 2017

Outcome: A video game based on the theme of time.

Complexity: Varying levels catered for.

Collaborative: Yes

Website: https://www.acmi.net.au/education/screen-it

Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero

Run by: Tech Girls Movement

Age Limits: Years 3–12

Time input: Students develop a prototype app to solve a problem in their community — open ended.

When: Already underway for 2017, with registrations closed

Outcome: A prototype app and benefits of a mentoring and entrepreneurship program

Complexity: Students need to develop a prototype app, support materials provided.

Collaborative: Yes

Website: http://searchforthenexttechgirlsuperhero.org/

Young ICT Explorers

Run by: A nonprofit competition created by SAP

Age Limits: Years 3–12

Time input: Students work on a project to exhibit — open ended.

When: Register by 4 June and submit by 30 June

Outcome: A project that uses Digital Technologies and/or ICT to solve a problem or share a passion.

Complexity: Very open-ended challenge which can be as complex as you make it.

Collaborative: Yes

Website: https://www.youngictexplorers.net.au/

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