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Competitions and challenges

Very brief details of all known relevant programming competitions and challenges

Simon Humphreys

Created by Simon Humphreys
last edited Mar 03 2020 by Simon Peyton Jones



Listed here: very brief details of all known relevant programming competitions, quoting contact details and age groups. The backup URLs will contain all you really need to know!

See also the CAS Scotland list of competitions. It is not Scotland-specific, and may well mention competitions that are not listed here.

  • OpenUK Kids Competition 2020. The competition and supporting resources are designed to help equip students with the skills, knowledge and experience in Open Technology to begin their learning path around the meaning of Open using the UK designed MiniMU glove kit and BBC micro:bit.

  • Alan Turing Cryptography Competition. This is a great competition for higher attainers. Most will be able to do the first challenge or two. The last one usually takes a lot of effort. There are Amazon voucher prizes for the first, second and third place for each challenge and a “spot” prize which is allocated to a randomly selected team that has completed the challenge. See this CAS thread

  • Matrix Challenge is focused on cyber and online safety for 11 to 17 yr olds. The game takes around 30 minutes to complete and covers 5 key topics, CMA 1990, staying safe online, steganography, fault finding in lines of code and cracking a cipher. The challenge will also include a timed multiple choice quiz. Then there are regional semi-finals, and a national final.

  • Bank of England Student Technology Competition . In 2019 the spec was “We want students, aged 16 to 18, to show us how they would use data to measure the impact of climate change on the economy.”

  • Wolfram Challenges, has 140+ computational thinking challenges for people of all ages, with topics including algorithms, geography, geometry and sequences. Here is Stephen Wolfram’s CAS post describing it, and his accompanying blog post. Launched April 2018.

  • CyberFirst Girls competition run by the UK National Cyber Security Centre. The CyberFirst Girls Competition is made up of two parts: the first is a set of online challenges covering four main cyber security topics. We want to offer girls a fun yet challenging gameplay experience. The puzzles can become progressively harder allowing girls to stretch their learning and gain further knowledge that could help them in their everyday lives. More on the link; and this CAS thread.

  • Enigma is a free, individual online challenge in Computation & Algorithmic Thinking (CAT) and Mathematics for students aged 8-17. It is conducted by the Australian Mathematics Trust and Edfinity twice a year from (March to May) and (September to November). Enigma has two rounds conducted over several weeks to allow all students to sit the challenge at their convenience. Round 1 is open to all, while participation in Round 2 is by invitation only. Enigma is an individual challenge and students may opt to sit the CAT and/or Mathematics Challenge. All students are recognized for their efforts, and the top performers in Round-2 are awarded commendation certificates. Educators may register their students for free, or student/parent may register individually for free as well. FAQ here.

  • IBM/Nesta Longitude Explorer Prize (2017). Students are invited to submit their ideas for innovative and practical solutions that use the Internet of Things to improve health and well-being of people in the UK. Areas of particular interest include childhood obesity, physical activity, mental health and pollution, but ideas can relate to any other health issues.

  • Microsoft STEM Student Challenge Years 8-10. Registrations close 16 Dec 2016. Winning teams get up to £5K for their school and visit Microsoft Research to present their ideas to world-leading computer scientists.

  • Bloodhound Rocket Car micro:bit competition, summer 2016.

  • FXP competition. Games oriented, Year 9 upwards. First ran in the East of England in 2016, national in 2017.

  • Microsoft Hello Cloud : Getting Students to understand cloud services. Every month, one student will win our $1,000 sweepstakes. To compete, you just complete one or more of our Hello Cloud activities. Each activity you complete gives you another chance to win. And you only have to do each activity once – your name will still be in the sweepstakes month after month! So what are these activities? They’re actually kind of cool, and doing them will help you learn how to manage and deploy projects in the cloud! (also see: this forum post)

  • Microsoft and NASA Imagine Earth Competition Students ages 6-18 worldwide are invited to explore this exciting and vital area of scientific research in Imagine Cup Earth, a new coding competition for students. Whether you have never coded before and would like to learn, or if you’re already studying coding and want to take on a new challenge, all skill levels are welcome to dream big, build creatively, and boldly bring your ideas to life. (also see: this forum post)

  • PA Consulting annual Raspberry Pi Competition. This year we are challenging students to use the Raspberry Pi to drive innovation in sport and leisure. From creating wearable performance-monitoring technology through to developing a crowd-control app for use in stadiums, your imagination really is the limit! We have three categories: Primary School Award: academic years 4-6, Secondary School Award: academic years 7-11, Sixth Form and College Award: academic years 12-13. If you would like to discover more about the competition please register your interest and we will be in touch soon to let you know how to sign up.

  • Grok Code Quest Grok Code Quest is an annual friendly competition run over 5 weeks in November where thousands of secondary school students come together to learn to code. Grok Code Quest offers an introductory BBC micro:bit stream in Python, as well as Beginners and Intermediate streams in Python 3, and a Newbies stream in Blockly (visual drag and drop language) for younger students.

  • Grok Web.Comp Web.Comp is an annual friendly competition run over 5 weeks in February where thousands of secondary school students come together to learn web design. Web.Comp teaches HTML and CSS, along with web design skills needed to create amazing website at a Beginners and Intermediate level.

  • Cyber Centurion is aimed at 12-18-year-olds, in teams of 4-6. It is part of Cyber Security Challenge UK, which is “a series of national competitions, learning programmes, and networking initiatives designed to identify, inspire and enable more EU citizens resident in the UK to become cyber security professionals”.

  • Technovation challenge. Girls competition for ages 10-23 - links students with mentors in industry.

  • Kodu Kup is a huge competition for children aged 7-14, using Kodu. In 2104 there were over 300,000 children in 120,000 teams.

  • Northrop Grumman (US military contractor) cyber-security competition for schools, register by September 26th 2014, contest begins in October.

  • The Bebras contest is an annual competition (the International Contest of Informatics and Computer Fluency) held in November in many (around 50) different countries world-wide. It originated in Lithuania. It consists of an online (language independent) test which focuses on computational thinking via problems, tasks, puzzles etc. Informatics in Lithuania is the same as Computer Science. Countries can choose to run the competition for a range of different age-groups from primary upwards. The tasks are set by an international committee which meets annually.

    This competition has been run in the UK since 2012 and is now a regular fixture on the UK school timetable. Further details about the UK Challenge can be found here: bebras.uk

    More on the same:
    Past UK Challenges (no need to login)
    bebras.org
    bebras.uk
    An exposition explaining it has been given by Valentia Dagienne.

  • 3Dami is an annual summer school for aspiring 3D animators. To enter students must submit a successful portfolio of their work. They then form a mini-dev studio and create their own film in 7 days.

  • The National Cipher challenge Cipher Challenge is a cryptographic competition organised by Southampton University School of Maths. Competitors attempt to break cryptograms published on the competition website. It is organised into eight challenges, which are further subdivided into relatively simple cryptograms for beginers and later challenges that are harder to break.

  • The (British) Informatics Olympiad is at the upper end of the spectrum, aimed at students “under 19”. The first stage is a 3h exam at school, in which students solve problems with the aid of a computer and marked by a teacher. Based on the results, the top 15 competitors are invited to the BIO final in Cambridge during the Easter holidays.

  • The (International) Informatics Olympiad is a top-end event. Winning this is a serious international accolade - when CAS is finished, the UK will win every year.

  • The Perse Coding Team Challenge is a new one hour team coding competition in which teams of four (max 2 year 10 as oldest) compete online, invigilated by a non-specialist teacher at their school. Prize money and the Braben cup is provided by David Braben, OBE FREng, co-founder of Raspberry Pi. It aims to help bridge the gap to the British Informatics Olympiad.

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