Coding contest in a not-normal year
30 July 2020
The first round of the South African Programming Olympiad is underway. From 27-31 July, schools that have applied for the contest will go head to head in an online competition platform.
Michael Cameron, manager of the SA Computer Olympiad, said during lockdown many teens have been ‘messing about with code’, e.g. coding to make robots move, or to tweak games. Coding contests at schools can help to build the twin skills of problem-solving and programming.
“It contributes to future-proofing South Africa. Building the data skills of today’s teens can help South Africa develop beyond the pandemic”, said Cameron. “Today entrepreneurs are looking for young programmers. They see the benefit of having tech-savvy teens in business. It is best to start young – some primary schools enter grade 7 learners.”
Any programming language may be used for this round – the most popular are Scratch, Python, Java, and Delphi/Pascal. A website provides past papers with solutions in different languages, as well as links to YouTube videos on practising with the online saco-evaluator.
Teachers can refer learners to resources for the Programming Olympiad on the website www.olympiad.org.za. The 2020 Olympiad is online only where answers are evaluated automatically, and no marking is required by the teacher. Learners will upload their programs before they log off at the end of the hour.
The Programming Olympiad has developed top programming skills for 35 years. The six medal winners from the final round are invited to training. This is to develop and select a team of four to take part in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in the following year. South Africa is one of the 88 countries taking part in the first-ever online IOI this year in mid-September. Team members are from Eden College, Durban (Aaron Naidu), St John’s College, Johannesburg (Andi Qu) and, from Cape Town, Fairbairn College (M Taariq Mowzer) and Curro Durbanville (Adri Wessels).