The Hour of Code is a program copious with one-hour coding activities and designed to show the world that anyone can learn the basics of coding, no matter how much pre-existing knowledge they might have. With the belief that “every student should have the opportunity to learn Computer Science”, they aim to expand participation, appreciation and celebration of the field of Computing.
From the first to the 12th of December, as part of the Hour of Code Computer Science Education week, Codementum (an online coding platform for students), opened its doors to students across the globe to participate in a coding competition. Being the world’s largest coding competition for students, you can imagine the intensity and challenge participants must undergo in order to earn a spot on the podium.
To put it into perspective, 98 countries joined, 1,734 schools participated, 2,578 classes competed and 34,879 students successfully completed the competition. Among them, a team of 15 of our very own Year 12 A-level computing students managed to out-code all participants and bring home the title of first place. A victory recognised worldwide.
Winning this competition required efficiency: an amalgamation of skill and speed. Each participant was given a melange of 20 coding challenges. For each challenge, the students were awarded either one, two or three gold stars based on their approach to solving the problem and the speed at which they finish a task. Ultimately, students were graded in a class system. The class with the most efficient problem-solving ability and finishing in the shortest time, would win.
According to Mr. Gordon (the team’s Computing teacher), this was the school’s first time participating. Having seen this competition take place earlier in the year, allowed him and the students to figure out what to do to win.
During a sit-down for a short Q&A session, Mr. Gordon explained a few tactics he had drawn from the previous competition to aid the team. Ensuring that everyone started at exactly the same time would be a pressing matter. The students weren’t to start until he gave the signal, as he knew seconds would be important if they were going to try and win.
In spite of the fact that the students didn’t find the competition very stressful, they engaged very well with the challenges and tried their best. Winning still came as a shock to everyone. After all, this was the school’s first time taking part in this competition and the profuse number of global entries was quite intimidating.
It is astounding that while the rest of the students of SSV (Senior School of Voorschoten) were going about their usual lessons, the lines of Python, (a high-level general-purpose programming language), that led to our school’s ultimate victory, were flowing across the screens of 15 computers, operated by 15 brilliant minds.
The victory of this competition has encouraged the Computing Department to participate in future competitions. Our congratulations to our students and Mr Gordon.
A version of this article was first published in the Voorschoten Krant in January 2022.