Congressional App Challenge – Chicago


The 2017 Congressional App Challenge is open for submissions from students in 204+ congressional districts across the country. Students can create and submit their own original apps for mobile phone, tablet, or computer platforms. Apps will be judged by a panel of local community leaders engaged in STEM fields. Winners run the chance of being invited to Washington, DC, and having their apps featured on a display in the U.S. Capitol building.

There are currently 204+ Members of Congress from 45 states signed up to participate in this year’s Challenge. To see if students from your area are eligible to participate, click here.

More information and submission guidelines are available at

PDF With details HERE

Fidget Spinners Competition at Inventables

This competition is open to anyone, however if you have completed or are currently enrolled in the Innovation and Creation Lab course at Lane, Mr. Solin will donate all machine time and provide all materials (including bearings) for students that are interested in participating.

From Inventables:

The first community challenge is to make a toy. By each of us contributing one, together we’ll create a kind of toy store. Think of it as a virtual toy store. We’ll start with a single toy…the Fidget Spinner. Amazon has about 2,000 fidget spinners for sale and Etsy has about 3,000. We want all the spinners to be unique and interesting. That gives us the opportunity to exercise our creative and technical muscles. If you submit a unique fidget spinner design there are four levels of rewards you can win up to $115 in Inventables gift cards.

Check out the full contest details and instructions.

Scholarship: The Search for Hidden Figures

If you’re a female with talent in STEM who hasn’t yet been recognized for her great work or potential, this is your chance: Tell us how you’ll use STEM to change the world, and you could win $50,000 in scholarship money, plus exciting opportunities that will help you pursue the work you love. We have two opportunities—junior and professional—so choose the age group that’s right for you and apply by Dec. 10!

Code Shop: 2501 – CS and App Development Competitions

Code Shop: 2501 is our attempt to create a time, place and environment where students can work on projects and competitions that may not fit with any of their class-specific work.  You might be working individually, in pairs or in teams on App Development contests, Programming competitions, Science Fair projects or business ideas;  we’re hoping that Code Shop: 2501 can help connect students with resources and support for whatever projects they’re working on.

We’ll be meeting in 124 after school today (Thursday 9/22) to talk about some of the upcoming  competitions and to brainstorm how this student-led,  teacher-supported effort can move forward.

Each year, there are several interesting CS and App Development competitions that take place throughout the year, and several competitions are already under way.

Congressional App Challenge
Verizon Innovative Learning App Challenge
Breakthrough Junior Challenge
Master The Mainframe

New CS Competitions and Development Club

Info meeting Thursday 9/15 at 3:45pm in room 124.
There are all sorts of CS, programming and development contests and competitions throughout the year, and we wanted to create one club that could be a home for all of them.
Here are just a few examples:
  • IBM’s Master the Mainframe,
  • CTF (Capture the Flag) contests from various schools,
  • Congressional App Challenge,
  • other App contests/challenges, and
  • the ProCom Java programming competition.
Students will be able to participate all year long or for single events, as their schedules allow.
No prior experience is necessary;  a lot of the competitions are more about ideas than specific technical CS knowledge.
And one of the most important things is to enjoy what you’re doing, so you can create a team of friends and classmates you know.
We plan on meeting on Thursdays after school in room 124.   We’ll have a first information meeting on Thursday, September 15 at 3:45 (we’re starting a little late today due to a CS teachers meeting right after school.)
And because it’s a new club, we do need people to step up to leadership roles; let us know if that interests you.

Google/CPS Hackathon


Chicago Public Schools and Google are hosting Googlepalooza’s first-ever Hackathon for students!

Teams of up to six students in grades 9-12 will compete to design and prototype an application that will improve how teachers and administrators interact with the District’s student information (e.g., grades, attendance, schedules, etc.). Students will have the opportunity to win prizes and interact with mentors from Google!

If you’re interested, let your teacher know;  each Lane teacher can register two teams of students.


ProCom 2.o Coming to Lane Tech!

ProCom 2.0 is a collaborative effort between members of Chicago CSTA and Chicago Suburban CSTA to provide a fun, competitive, and rewarding programming experience for all participants. The competition date has been set for Saturday, February 20, 2016, at Lane Tech College Prep High School.

We can register 2 four-student teams for the competition, and we’ll need volunteers to help the event run smoothly.  Although the contest will require solutions be submitted in Java, it’s not necessary that all team members know Java;  the reasoning, teamwork and problem-solving skills developed in learning other languages (and in other endeavors) will be useful to the teams.

We’ll have a brief information meeting Thursday, January 14 from 3:30 – 3:45, in room 239;  interested teams can stay for more information on accessing the problems from last year’s competition, how to prepare and what to expect.

Read more about the competition at  ; if you have additional questions and can’t make the meeting, email Mr. Hayes directly at .

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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