This September, we announced the SAAS Coding Challenge. This online series of weekly problems supplements the popular Software Development and Statistics electives while also providing coding tips and training to students not in these classes.
“I think it’s important for high school students to learn these skills,” said Charlotte Zinda ‘18. “It is very helpful for a lot of professions to know how to code and understand the math behind it. If I have time, I try to do the coding challenges each week, no matter if it is assigned or not. They definitely deepen my understanding of math concepts as well as coding, and they are fun to do too!”
Each week, students submit their answer or results, their source code (example below from Paige Pauli’s ’04 Design & Technology class), and a description of resources they used or help that they received. One solution is featured each week and badges are awarded for tracking progress and additional recognition. Questions come from various domains of computer science and include elements of design and user interface as well.
For beginner programmers, a video walkthrough of the previous problem and hints for the current question are posted in the middle of each week. Students are also encouraged to discuss the problems among each other and may receive hints and mentoring from faculty members Gary Anderson, David Johns, Willy Felton, Mark Betnel, or Gabe Cronin.
The first three weeks saw 120 correct entries, with students submitting answers in seven different programming languages. So far students have tackled topics related to math classes (like computing standard deviation or finding the line of best fit) and animations of the school logo. This is on the heels of a software development project last year when Matt Kelsey ’18 created “Flappy SAAS” with the school logo, based on the popular mobile game “Flappy Bird.”
“It is certainly expanding the coding opportunities and exposure beyond our software development courses,” said statistics, coding and math teacher Gary Anderson. “Time will tell if it leads to sustained effort out of classes when the topics are not linked to courses but it will take the full year of incubation, I suspect, before we will start knowing that with any certainty. But so far it looks pretty promising.”
Next week, Seattle Academy students will take part in The Hour of Code an initiative launched last year by Code.org and supported by Microsoft to encourage students and adults worldwide to take a single hour to learn how to code.