“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think”
—Steve Jobs

Learn more about the NCSS Challenge

What's the NCSS Challenge?

The Challenge is a programming competition for secondary school students. It’s been running in Australia for the last 9 years, and this year it’s open to everyone.

The Challenge is unlike any other programming competition. We’ll teach you how to program as we go along, rather than expecting you to be an expert already. If you’re a seasoned coder, we have something for you too – the problems range from relatively simple to mind-bendingly hard.

For 5 weeks starting on Monday 4th August, 2014 and running until Sunday 7th September, 2014, we will release a set of notes containing the information you will need to complete the week's programming challenges.

Why should I learn to code?

Programming (also known as coding) is how sites like Facebook and apps like Instagram are made. Knowing how to program is like having a computing super power.

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have all said that students should learn how to code. It’s a skill that not only teaches you how to work with computers, but also teaches you how to think about solving problems with systems.

The NCSS Challenge teaches students to code in Python 3.3. Python is an easy to learn scripting language used for many different purposes such as web applications and scientific research. Companies like Google, Facebook and Reddit all use Python in their infrastructure and web services.

Learn to code like a ninja.

Register now!

Understandable notes

Each course comes with notes tailored to a different learning level. Whether you're a beginner or have some experience you'll learn at a comfortable pace.

Our notes have been expanded over more than a decade of teaching. When combined with our challenging problems they're the perfect format for learning to code. Thousands of students have been through our courses and learned a great deal. We think you will too.

Challenging problems

To take you beyond the notes, each concept you learn is matched with a problem to solve. While you may start by saying "Hello World!", you'll eventually be navigating mazes and solving sudoku puzzles.

Our cloud based automarking system breaks each problem down to a number of tests, checking various different types of input. If you're not 100% there, we'll tell you why and help you on the way to completely solving the problem.

Compete with peers

Each stream of the NCSS Challenge has its own leaderboard where you can see how you're doing against all of your peers.

Compete for glory on a stage dominated by the hardest working. But don't worry, you're only competing against those in your stream. Each question answered correctly gets you points that improve your ranking, bringing you closer to global programming domination.

Get help from tutors

Our University trained tutors are always available to help you out through private internal messaging.

You ask a question and we'll walk you through the solution. From simple questions like “what does this error mean?” or “how do I submit my answer?” to more complex questions like “how would I go about implementing a depth first search?”. Most of the time the notes will be enough, but when things get tricky having a programming expert to step you through is handy.

Make new friends

Our forums allow students to chat about the problems and their solutions in a safe environment monitored by our staff.

At the end of each week threads start for each of the problems, where students will talk about what was tough and how they worked through it. General banter is also encouraged so that everyone can get to know each other better and perhaps even start projects on the side.

I'm totally sold, where do I sign up?

Register now!
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NCSS Challenge (Newbie)

Competition starts on August 4th 2014

TBA.

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NCSS Challenge (Beginners)

Competition starts on August 4th 2014

Learn how to program in Python while you compete with students from around the world. The Beginners stream is designed for students with no prior experience at programming, and includes extra questions each week that cover the basic concepts. This level is most suited to students in junior secondary school (12 - 16 year olds) or anyone who wants to start with the basics.

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NCSS Challenge (Intermediate)

Competition starts on August 4th 2014

Improve your Python programming while you compete with students from around the world! The Intermediate stream is designed for students who either have completed the Beginners stream in a previous year, or have some other prior programming experience. This stream is targeted at students in middle secondary school and above (14 - 18 year olds), but advanced junior students will also enjoy it!

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NCSS Challenge (Advanced)

Competition starts on August 4th 2014

Test your skills against student programmers from around the world! The Advanced stream is designed for students with significant programming experience, or those who are capable of moving fast through advanced material. This level is aimed at students in senior secondary school (16 - 18 years) or extremely talented junior students.

Sign up!

Making games is cooler than playing them.

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There are two ways to compete

Stream by stream

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NCSS Challenge (Newbie)

Explore programming for the first time while you compete with students from around the world.

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NCSS Challenge (Beginners)

Learn how to program in Python while you compete with students from around the world.

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NCSS Challenge (Intermediate)

Improve your Python programming while you compete with students from around the world!

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NCSS Challenge (Advanced)

Test your skills against student programmers from around the world!

Only $20.00 (USD) per stream

One year subscription

All NCSS Streams & All Grok Courses

Only $30.00 (USD) for everything

(With teacher discount)

or $100.00 (USD) without

Programmers wear hoodies to work.

Register now!

Are you a teacher?

The Challenge is used by hundreds of teachers as a key part of their existing computing courses.

We provide you with all the notes and support you need to run the NCSS Challenge as a classroom activity - no software installation is required. We give you access to the content throughout the year, so you can move at a pace that suits your class. You can track your students’ progress using our teacher dashboard, and we provide expert support for any questions you have.

Sign up my class!

Who runs this?

The NCSS Challenge is run by Grok Learning, a new education start-up from the University of Sydney. Between us we have decades of experience teaching students how to program.

Our goal in starting Grok Learning is to do more: more students in more countries; more intelligent auto-marking; more courses, projects and competitions running more times each year — which equals more fun learning.

The Challenge is supported by an army of expert tutors from universities and our industry sponsors. They patrol the forums answering questions at the speed of light.

The NCSS Challenge is possible thanks to our fantastic sponsors!

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