The NCSS Challenge is an initiative of the Australian Computing Academy and the University of Sydney in partnership with Grok Learning

NCSS Challenge July 2020

Challenge yourself to code

Starts July 27th

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3720

Newbies

Challengers

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10469

Beginners

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4551

Intermediate

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1719

Advanced

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What is the NCSS Challenge?

The NCSS Challenge is a programming competition open to all school students and teachers. The Grok Learning team have been running coding competitions like the challenge for over 12 years.

The NCSS 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.

Starting on Monday 27th July, 2020 and running for about 5 weeks, we will release notes and problems containing the information you will need to complete the week's programming challenges.

Why 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.

There's a Challenge stream to challenge anyone!

During the NCSS Challenge you will:

  • Get intelligent automarking and instant feedback
  • Learn to code as you go along (you don't need to be an expert!)
  • Solve exciting real-world problems
  • Compete against students from Australia and New Zealand
  • Chat with online support from expert tutors
  • Earn points to climb the leaderboard

The NCSS Challenge is for school students from upper primary to all levels of high school; there's a stream to match every student's ability.

Primary Students

All NCSS Challenge streams + other Grok courses and competitions

$5.00 (USD) / year*

Purchase student subscription

* Prices are per student. Please check our pricing page for any discounts that may apply.


Secondary Students

All NCSS Challenge streams + other Grok courses and competitions

$30.00 (USD) / year*

Purchase student subscription

* Prices are per student. Please check our pricing page for any discounts that may apply.

Course badge for NCSS Challenge (Newbies)

NCSS Challenge (Newbies)

Perfect for young beginners

Blockly

The Newbies stream of the NCSS Challenge has been built for students with no experience in coding at all. It uses a friendly block-based coding environment to introduce fundamental computational thinking concepts.

The Newbies stream is friendlier for younger students, so that students in primary school can be involved too!

Course details, scoring and leaderboards

Covers variables, input, branching and looping Curriculum links

Course badge for NCSS Challenge (Beginners)

NCSS Challenge (Beginners)

Perfect for beginners of all ages

Blockly or Python

The Beginners stream of the NCSS Challenge is the best stream for most students. It introduces fundamental computational thinking concepts, plus adds some fun stuff on top.

This year we're offering two versions of the Beginners challenge, one in Blockly (block-based coding) and one in regular Python. Choose what's comfortable.


Course details, scoring and leaderboards: Blockly version Python version

Covers variables, input, branching, looping and functions Blockly | Python

Course badge for NCSS Challenge (Intermediate)

NCSS Challenge (Intermediate)

For experienced students, to stretch further

Python Experience required!

The Intermediate stream of the NCSS Challenge is for students who have completed the Beginners stream and want to learn more. It introduces data structures, files and more ways to use functions.

This year we're recommending students only do Intermediate if they've done Beginners or an equivalent Python course before.

Course details, scoring and leaderboards

Covers data structures, more looping and more functions Curriculum links

Course badge for the NCSS Challenge (Advanced)

NCSS Challenge (Advanced)

Python Experience required!

The Advanced stream of the NCSS Challenge is for students with significant programming experience looking to really test their skills! This stream introduces more advanced data structures, Object-Oriented Programming, and recursion.

Course details, scoring and leaderboards

Real-world Data Structures and AI Curriculum links

Our Teaching Philosophy

We want the NCSS Challenge to be a competition for every student. That means students who've never coded as well as those with years of experience.

To make sure everyone can be included, we teach coding as we go along. Each week we release new notes and problems; the notes teach new coding concepts, and the problems challenge them!

The core of the Challenge is our problems. We put a huge amount of effort into making them relevant, real-world problems that challenge at just the right level. Plus, when you're coding in the Challenge you won't just learn about coding - we'll slip in some science, language, maths, history and geography too!

What students and teachers are saying…

“It teaches you as you go so you are able to test yourself, but you aren't expected to already know everything. I love how the problems are so creative, and entertaining to read. The tutors are also really friendly and respond quickly to queries.”

Lauren, 17

“Working on a challenge for hours, racking your brain and thinking about it for hours more, and then the feeling of success and satisfaction when you run it and it's correct! I love the little adrenaline rush you get when all the green ticks pop up!”

Lillian, 14

“Students who have normally been less than engaged in Tech are suddenly immersed in it, not only managing to work through the problems and frustrations but also helping each other. The collegiality and collaborative environment is fabulous.”

Sujatha, Technology Teacher

“Not only did the challenges allow [students] to develop new skills, it also improved their self confidence as they were able to see the improvements they made as they worked through the problems. Our school based data shows improved computational thinking with improved results in external competitions.”

Linda, Technology Teacher

Visit the Wall of Love

The most effective way for students to learn coding.

Challenging problems

Our problem-based learning approach matches each new concept with a problem so you learn by doing!

Code in the browser

Code from any device, any time - start a question on your iPad at school and finish it off on your computer at home.

Interactive notes

Dive straight into coding while using the notes, with interactive code snippets that can be edited and run.

Intelligent automarking

Our automarker breaks each problem down into tests and gives you useful feedback to help you solve it!

Designed for teachers

We've designed our platform with your needs firmly in mind. Let our classroom-ready resources do the heavy lifting of content delivery, so you can focus on your students.

View student progress

View and edit your students’ details, and easily keep track of their progress on our teacher dashboard. Get quick updates at a glance, or drill down to see all student activity.

Students will also receive…

Online tutor support

Find a welcoming community of qualified tutors providing personalised, one-on-one support. Get help and communicate in a safe, moderated environment.

Certificate of achievement

Grok competitions are challenging, and we want to recognise students’ achievements! All students who participate will receive a printable certificate.

Rank on the leaderboard

Go head to head with students from around the world! Earn points for each problem you solve, and rank on the leaderboard to win glory for yourself and your school!

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, an 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 personally respond to messages from students, answering questions and helping them learn.

The NCSS Challenge is possible thanks to our fantastic sponsors!

Platinum Sponsors

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NCSS Challenge July 2020

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