“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 from Australia for the last 12 years and is open to all school students and teachers.

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 31st July, 2017 and running until Sunday 3rd September, 2017, 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 3.6. 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.

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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.

Making games is cooler than playing them.

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There are two ways to compete

Stream by stream

Newbies, Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced

Only $20.00 (USD) per stream

One year subscription

All NCSS Streams & All Grok Courses

Only $30.00 (USD) for everything

Programmers wear hoodies to work.

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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.

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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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