Google Code-In Contest

Introducing teens to open source software development with the Google Code-in contest

Back in 2010 Google realized that with the success of its Google Summer of Code program for university students there was a huge opportunity to reach even younger students and get them excited about software development in their early teens. Thus the Google Code-in contest was born. The 2014 contest will begin December 1st.

Google Code-in is a global, online contest designed for 13-17 year old pre-university students who are interested in learning about open source software development. Over the past four years, 1575 students from 78 countries have completed tasks in the contest. The contest allows teens to work with real open source projects such as Sahana Software Foundation (disaster relief software), Sugar Labs (software for children), Wikimedia, KDE and many others during the seven week contest. The opportunity to work on real software projects helps build the student’s skills as well as their confidence.

For their hard work students can earn a certificate of completion by completing one task, a t-shirt for completing three and a hooded sweatshirt if they are named as one the project’s five finalists. Finally, two grand prize winners are chosen by each of the open source projects and flown to Google’s Mountain View headquarters with a parent or legal guardian for a five day trip.

We hope students will continue to contribute to open source projects throughout their lives and help introduce others to the open source community thus putting more code out in the world for everyone to use.

Because software development requires many different skills, the open source projects create tasks for the students to work on in five categories: coding, documentation/training, quality assurance, outreach/research and user interface. While many of the tasks will involve using C++, C, HTML, Java, PHP, or Python, there are plenty of tasks for students new to software development—maybe they want to try their hand at documentation or perhaps they are artistically inclined and could help design a logo or redesign a web page. There are even tasks where students can create a screencast or a video describing how to use the software or introducing a new feature.

Realizing students can feel a bit intimidated jumping right into a software project they don’t know much about, participating projects assign mentors to each of the tasks so students can ask questions and receive guidance if they get stuck while trying to complete a task. This mentor interaction has proven to be a key part of the success of the program. Mentors are all active community members with the open source projects and are excited to help and to get new, young open source enthusiasts involved in their communities. Every year the #1 feedback we receive from mentors is that the seven weeks they spend working with these students is one of the most rewarding things they do all year. Mentors are not paid for their participation in the contest—instead they receive a t-shirt and a hearty thanks from Google. But time and again we hear that their main motivation for participating is helping students learn and bringing them into their communities.

Community involvement is one of the hallmarks of both Google Code-in and Google Summer of Code. Students have the opportunity to not only see the work they are doing become integrated into the software that thousands and sometimes millions of people will use but they also become part of that project’s open source community. When a student is welcomed into the open source community and becomes an active contributor they feel their work is appreciated. They can make new friends and are able to see the impact their work is having on the project. Ideally, students will continue to contribute to open source projects throughout their lives and help introduce others to the open source community thus putting more code out in the world for everyone to use.

Every year the grand prize winners come to Google as part of their grand prize trip and our team has had the opportunity to meet dozens of amazing students who have shared their stories with us. Since the contest is still relatively young (celebrating it’s 5th anniversary this year) most of the students are still in high school or university but the effect the contest has had on their lives is substantial.

Sushain Cherivirala, one of the Apertium project’s Google Code-in 2013 grand prize winners, recently wrote a blog post for the Google Open Source blog and had the following to say about his experience with the contest.

If I had to pick the single most educational experience of my life, it would be Google Code-in (GCI). I’ve completed MOOCson topics from Philosophy to Functional Programming, finished my high school’s computer science curriculum, taken a computer science internship and participated in countless programming contests. But I can claim with confidence that Google’s initiative to put high school students into real-world open source development environments is unparalleled in its influence on me.

Google Code-in has helped me not only advance my technological expertise but also, more importantly, exposed me to an environment that few students my age have the opportunity to benefit from.

Out of all the programming contests I’ve participated in, Google Code-in has offered the most authentic experience; there are no synthetic problems designed to test your coding ability, every line of code goes towards improving an open source organization’s software. Working with Apertium during GCI has afforded me a new perspective on software development, made me a strong proponent of open source software, helped me gain valuable experience that will undoubtedly help me in the future and convinced me to remain a lifetime contributor to open source.

Sushain’s experience is something that we have seen time and time again with our contest participants. We have had a number of students go on to become mentors for other students the year or two after they participated in Google Code-in (once they are 18) and many have continued to be active contributors to the open source projects they worked with during Google Code-in. And now that more of the students are turning 18 and eligible for the Google Summer of Code program this year alone we had 16 former Google Code-in students accepted for Google Summer of Code. We expect that number to rise as more of these teens enroll in universities.

Google Code-in 2014 begins December 1, 2014 at 9am PST. We hope to have even more students participate this year than ever before. For 2014, there will be 10-12 open source projects creating tasks for students to work on. For more information on the contest, including rules, FAQs, timeline, sample tasks and slide decks to share with students, please visit the contest site

By Stephanie Taylor, Google Code-in Program Manager

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Open to the public…


Chicago, Illinois – In association with Chicago Artists Month, on Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014, Jack C. Newell and Seth Unger will debut to the public plans for their interactive public art light structure, The Wabash Lights. This interactive and informational reception will be held at the downtown office of Gensler Chicago. The event is open to the public.

The Wabash Lights is a site­ specific lighting concept planned for the Wabash stretch of elevated train tracks (L) between Madison and Adams. The creators envision this work of public art will create a unique district in the heart of Chicago using the CTA’s L tracks as a canvas for a dynamic light experience.

Putting the Public in Public Art

The Wabash Lights’ LED tubes will be customizable in color, duration, brightness, and cadence. Typical light installations are created by a singular, commissioned light artist and pre­-programmed to run a set sequence. The Wabash Lights website will seek submissions from citizens of Chicago and the world to program snapshots, sequences, and interactivity into the canvas of light.

Wabash Lights designers Jack C. Newell and Seth Unger will lead a progressive discussion to explain the concept, logistics, and engage the audience in an interactive discussion about this transformative, inclusive, and first­ of ­it’s­ kind piece of public art. Food and drink will be served.

RSVP “yes” at

Wednesday, Oct 29 2014

6:30pm – 8pm

11 E. Madison Suite 300 Chicago, IL 60602

Jack & Seth

GEMS – First Meeting!

GEMS will host its first meeting after school on Tuesday, October 21 (tomorrow) in the STEAM Lab (124).

GEMS is a program that builds capacity in young women interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) fields. We educate our girls on how to be successful in these fields through field trips, guest-speakers, and service learning efforts.

Feel free to contact Ms. Lain, Ms. Whittaker, or Ms. Gonzalez if you have any questions or if you’d like to be more involved!

Flyer attached

Second annual picoCTF competition opening October 27

Carnegie Mellon University’s hacking team is designing and hosting the second annual picoCTF competition, a free online nationwide computer security event for middle and high school students. From October 27 2014 to November 7 2014, picoCTF ( ) will challenge students to learn and practice authentic hacking techniques in the context of a story-driven game created by Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. The competition consists of a series of challenges where participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the task. Students, with experience ranging anywhere from the somewhat computer savvy to well-versed programmers, will learn how to identify security vulnerabilities and perform real-world attacks.

By organizing a competition that presents computer science from this exciting and topical perspective, we hope to encourage students to become involved in the areas of computer science and computer security. Last year, nearly 2,000 teams of students across the country competed for $20,000 in prizes for both teams and schools. This year, we have more than $30,000 in prizes, as well as new tools designed to help teachers participate in picoCTF as a classroom activity.

For more information on the competition, as well as early registration, please visit our website at . You can also check out last year’s competition at .

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have regarding the competition at educator.

BDPA Chicago Chapter Student (IT) Symposium

The BDPA Chicago Chapter is hosting A Student Symposium on Saturday, October 18, 2014 for students interested in technology. There are many benefits to participation including, acquiring new or increasing existing programming skills, earning the right to demonstrate your skills on a national platform with fellow students in Washington DC, networking with Senior Executives from local and national companies, and the potential to earn college scholarships.

The location is TechNexus, 20 North Upper Wacker Drive Suite 1200, Chicago IL from 8:45 am to 11:30am.

The Symposium agenda is:

8:45 – 9:15: Continental Breakfast Meet and Greet

9:15 – 9:30: Program Overview

9:30 – 10:15: Maximize Learning with Mind Mapping

10:30 – 11:15: The Professional You!

11:30 – 12:15: Where can you find “I.T.”?

12:15 – 1:30: Box lunch and Networking

Students participating in the program will learn:


– Cascading Style Sheets

– JavaScript

– Web Page Design

– PHP and AJAX

– Database design & MySQL

– System analysis and solution design

– Mobile Technologies

– Computer Science

To participate in the program, students must meet the following qualifications:

– A student in the 6th through 12th grades.

– The ability to attend training sessions every Saturday from 9:00 am through 3:00 pm from December 2014 through August 2015.

– Attend the Midwest Regional Competition in early June.

– Access to a computer running Windows 7 or better

– Microsoft Word and Excel or compatible software running on their computer.

– A personal email account.

– Access to the internet.

– Consent of their parent or guardian.

To register for the informational session, go to and search for BDPA Chicago Chapter Student Symposium or click the following link:

Earl Pace and the late David Wimberly founded (Black Data Processing Associates) in May of 1975. BDPA is a non-profit organization of professionals working in or having an interest in the Computer Science and Information Technology fields.

BDPA was formed out of the founders’ concern that minorities were not adequately represented in the information technology industry. Currently, there are more than forty active chapters across the United States.

If you have questions about the High School Computer Competition Team program that were not answered by the information session or website, contact Audra Anderson at audra.anderson for more information.

Note: This opportunity is open to all students

NCWIT Application Help Day

All girls who are interested in applying for the National Center for Women in Technology Aspirations Award please stop by Room 235 on Wednesday October 15th after school.  If you need help writing your essays or just want a computer lab where you can complete your application, then come on by.  There might also be snacks!

Applications are due by November 2nd.  Don’t wait until the last minute!

Oct 8 – The Skills Gap: How Internet Know-How Influences What People Do (or not) Online – Speaker: Eszter Hargittai

This information is also on the Chapter website at:

A joint Chicago Chapter ACM / Loyola University Computer Science Department meeting

The Skills Gap: How Internet Know-How Influences What People Do (or not) Online

Speaker: Eszter Hargittai

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
5:45 pm – Social Time, light refreshments
6:30 pm – Presentation


University Water Tower Campus (Chicago/Michigan Area)
111 E. Pearson Street, Chicago IL 60611
Beane Ballroom (13th Floor, Lewis Towers)


Free, Reservations Requested, General Admission, open to the publicRSVP on the Chicago ACM meetup site

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers – Deadline Oct 3

A recent Lane alum at UIUC has presented an excellent opportunity to our students.

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at UIUC is hosting a high school visitation event. It would be for the whole weekend and they provide transportation to and from the campus. That includes pick up locations in Chicago.

Informational flyer is attached, and the application can be submitted here:

Their website is:

It actually sounds like a fun event and the whole thing is free. The application deadline is TOMORROW Oct 3 and it is open to all student, not just Hispanic students.