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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 Apr 16 2018 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.

  • 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.

  • Catch the Robots Bug, 2017. Upper primary and lower secondary.

  • Micro:bit Mother’s and Carer’s Day Challenge run by the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. How could the micro:bit make a Mother’s or Carer’s day better? Three challenges to choose from with prizes for the best inventions. Open to Primary and Secondary schools. More information on the link.

  • 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.

  • Alan Turing Cryptography Competition

  • ZX Vega National Schools Coding Championships For primary and secondary school students. Closing date May 16 2016

  • 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.

  • Cambridge University Press - November Computing Competition write a short program to crack a cipher to win a Raspberry Pi. Deadline 6th December 2014.

  • Aardman Animations Shaun the sheep competition using Scratch. Deadline extended to December. More info here

  • 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.

  • PA Consulting annual programming competition. For 2014/5 it is based on Raspberry Pi, and has three year groups: Years 4-6, 7-11, 12-13.

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

  • Computer Science Challenge for KS3 - 5. Open from 1 April to 2 May 2014

  • Peer to Peer Challenge, competition for Under 18s organised by Young Rewired State (YRS). Competition closes 12th April! Winners awarded prizes at Buckingham Palace.

  • CareerHack App competition for 16 - 24 year olds, run by the UK Commission for Education and Skills

  • The Udacity High School Challenge

  • Google Trailblazer Awards - for solving real world problems through Computer Science, rolled out through the British Science Association as part of the Big Bang

  • Google Code-In is described in this blog post. Aimed at 13-17 year olds, it begins in December 2014 and ends in January 2015. Participants complete tasks (some involve coding, some do not) for open source projects and get a certificate and t-shirt and, potentially, may win a trip to California.

  • 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.

  • Life is a rollercoster, a competition run by the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

  • Turing tape challenge run in Turing’s centenary year, 2012

  • Animation 15 is the latest in a series of very successful annual competitions run by the university of Manchester. Pupils in various age groups - individually or in groups - prepare a 1 minute animation within a selection of popular environments. Additional esafety category this year sponsored by BCS. Contest deadline is in March 2015 (advance registration required?)

  • 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 Heriott Watt University programming challenge is for pupils with some programming experience who are about to embark on some form of advanced study.

  • 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 2012 Scratch competition (Ireland) has launched, which encourages primary and secondary school students to get involved with computing and software development.

  • Young Rewired State has a focus to find and foster young children and teenagers who are driven to teaching themselves how to code, how to program the world around them.

  • Yousrc will rerun their competition in 2012 with two age groups: under 16, and 16-18. Two prizes each worth £500 to the winning schools.

  • 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.

Regional Competitions

  • Code Challenge for school children Years 5 to Year 9 living in Wiltshire or Dorset, run by STEM Wilts Dorset.

  • Challenge IT. The Coventry BCS branch run a competition for schools, and youth groups in Coventry, Warwickshire, South Leicestershire and Solihull areas. Entries can be a website or web app, a digital animation or a design for a mobile phone app. It culminates with the Finals Exhibition on the 15th of March 2012 (National Science and Engineering Week) at Coventry University, when finalists are invited to exhibit their entries and judges will select the winners.

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