No prior open source knowledge is required.
It's pretty obvious that if we want to set students up to be creators of technology, not just passive consumers, they have to learn to code. But while there are individual teachers helping kids learn the nuts and bolts of programming, most American students know zilch about computer science. So how can a high school student win a computer science contest if they've never even heard the phrase "open source"? Look no further than Google's third annual Code-In, a global contest for 13 to 17-year-olds interested in learning more about computer science and open source software development.
The contest lets students learn while completing bite-sized tasks and projects from five categories: coding, documentation/training, quality assurance, research/outreach, and user interface. Students earn points and prizes for each task completed—one completed task gets them a certificate and three tasks earns them a sweet Code-In t-shirt. Of course, if you're a newbie to open source, you might need some help, so 10 open source organizations—places like Sugarlabs and the Fedora Project—will provide online mentoring.
What's the payoff if students stick with it? Well, a new tech skill set that's as essential in the 21st century as reading and writing is nothing to sneeze at, but the mentoring organizations will also pick 20 grand prize winners. They'll get a trip to an awards ceremony at Google headquarters next spring. Registration just opened on November 26th and the contest closes on January 14, 2013, so get coding and enter.
Binary code image via Shutterstock