Mercer Island High School sophomores Alan Bi and Chris Elliott independently organized the school’s first coding competition on April 1, bringing more than 100 Puget Sound students together for a day of computer programming and problem solving.
Bi and Elliott started CodeMIHS — recently renamed TeamsCode — because they share a passion for computer programming and a desire to teach others the importance of understanding programming to achieve future success, according to their website.
Elliott said they came up with the idea at a Microsoft Programming Competition, and that they want to “bring more computer science to Mercer Island and encourage more students to enter this field.”
The students want to involve the Island community, as well as the neighboring regions, through biannual programming competitions, and hope to announce the date of another contest in May.
Their first contest had a “great turnout of 103 students, or 41 teams,” from schools including Mercer Island High School, Nikola Tesla STEM High School, Newport High School, Garfield High School, Skyline High School, Odle Middle School, Islander Middle School, Bellevue High School, Mountlake Terrace High School, Willows Preparatory School, Lynnwood High School, Lake Oswego High School, Bishop Blanchet High School, Tahoma High School, Interlake High School, Seattle Preparatory School, Issaquah High School, Catlin Gabel School and Lakeside Middle School.
There were two divisions in the contest: intermediate, for programmers who have recently started programming and/or are in one programming class; and advanced, for programmers with more experience, typically having finished one programming class and are fairly knowledgeable about a specific language, including Java, C++, C# and Python.
The winners of the advanced division were the Dystopic Dynausaurs from the STEM High School. The top represented school was Newport, with eight teams.
Prizes included a Syma X5C Quadcopter, Amazon Fire Tablets, a Pebble Time Smartwatch and an Amazon Echo Dot. The Living Computer Museum, as well as Earl Bergquist, helped supply many of the prizes.
They are also planning to offer tutoring to students trying to learn computer science or study for AP exams.
“Most of those are tailored to students trying to program in Java, but I think that is a great language to start with, as it is pretty intuitive and teaching students about Object-Oriented Programming, which is a really important idea in computer science,” he said.
Though originally naming their organization CodeMIHS, Elliott and Bi are broadening their scope beyond the Island.
The students ultimately “hope to continue to help all students who want to pursue programming and computer science,” Elliott said.