12 Prestigious Coding Competitions for Kids: Playgroup to 8th Grade
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Coding competitions have been gaining popularity in recent years. With more and more online organizations along with multinational companies such as Microsoft and Google offering competitions, it makes us wonder why the kids should enroll in these.
The coding competitions for school kids not only build skills such as creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork, but it is also very rewarding for kids. Plus, the certificates prove to be very beneficial for university admissions or prestigious STEM education summer camps. With over 31,000 applications in computer science majors, you need to set yourself apart from the crowd and these competitions are the way to do it.
If your students or children are interested in STEAM education and love to code; then sign them up for various coding competitions. These contests are the real test of kids’ fast coding skills which he will need in the future STEM career. Just like exams and quizzes stimulate kids to practice and improve their knowledge, these competitions are the best brain exercise to practice and excel at coding. Without these, your kids can’t learn coding under time restraints.
Did you know that most of the companies such as Google and Intel value the skills of their engineering and programmers more than anything else! The participation proof and certificates from these competitions are considered a valuable addition to the applications when applying to colleges or summer internships. So if your kid or student is participating in coding competitions, then he is already a step ahead of his peers.
Some other benefits that demonstrate the importance of STEAM education coding competitions include:
- Practical hands-on knowledge of coding that helps in job interviews.
- Teaches kids the skills to think on their feet and calculate every move.
- Allows kids to repeatedly practice the basics of coding.
- Just like any competition, it builds character and kids learn to deal with failure.
- Promotes teamwork and collaboration between like-minded individuals.
So to get you started, we have compiled a list of international coding competitions for kids that are generally free and available worldwide
Coding Competitions for Kids Aged 7 and up (Elementary School)
Code chef is a coding competition platform that offers online challenges for kids. Here challenges can be solved using multiple languages including C++ and Java. Kids from around the world can participate and submit solutions to the contest questions.
The best feature of CodeChef is that it gives the contestants’ ample time, sometimes even days, to work on the challenges. So for a beginner programmer, this is the perfect competition to get your feet wet before moving to advanced competitions. The website estimates 10K people participate in their competitions from around the globe.
New competition dates are announced each month, for now, the current competition closes on 10 November 2020.
Eligibility: anyone who can program from elementary to high school.
Spread over various continents, ACSL has been holding supreme-level coding competitions for 42years now, as of 2020. It is divided into various levels according to the age of participants. For elementary school students, non-programmable problems are presented. For advanced levels, different coding challenges are given and kids compete against teams of the same age group.
More than 500 teams from Asia, Africa, and European countries participate. The 2021 competition dates will be announced on the website. The 2020 contest was on May 23.
Eligibility: international elementary + middle and high school students.
Related read: Coding for kids. 30 Best free and paid coding websites for kids.
Scratch was developed by MIT and now this competition invites over 50 countries to participate. Winners are awarded medals and certificates which are recognized internationally. The contest involves using scratch to solve tasks such as creating games. The theme for the game is provided to the teams and the students have to compete against other skilled programmers to be the quickest and make the best product.
This year’s registration was in Aug 2020. New years’ dates are yet to be announced.
Eligibility: elementary and middle school kids aged 7+ years.
Designed for children and adolescents the Olympiad engages international students in coding competition using scratch coding. Each task upon completion is judged based on the creativity and complexity of the code. The challenges are based on different software and coding issues and require teamwork and creative thinking to solve. Participation is free in this coding competition!
Eligibility: kids aged 7+ from around the world.
Coding Competitions for Kids Aged 10 and up (Grades 5 and Above)
This competition by Google offers online challenges to be solved using scratch code or app inventor by MIT. Teachers and parents can submit the projects on the behalf of the students. Kids can access various courses on Google to familiarize themselves with the contest and the challenges. Competition is judged based on a student’s skill to use different machine learning techniques to complete projects.
Contest registration opens in April. So keep an eye out on the website for the dates of 2021.
Eligibility: students from grade 5- 12.
This competition is exclusive to girls in STEM. In the past decade, 25,000 young minds from 100+ countries have participated in the contest. They work with mentors and solve challenges to develop apps and computerized solutions for real-world problems. The certificates provided are quite valuable in college applications.
Eligibility: Girls of ages 10–18y from many counties. Check the website to find competition in your country.
This is the best competition for young kids just starting to code. Basic level challenges are given to kids to solve and progress through the stages. Kids can develop apps or games using any language they want. Some of the challenges are python specific. Anyone can participate from around the world by signing up on the website and competing against groups at your level. No fees are required.
This competition is live throughout the year so you can start anytime.
Eligibility: elementary school; kids aged 10+
This competition involves using blockly and python languages. The contest is held virtually with teams and there are different levels according to age groups. The students program their robots to solve different challenges by coding together and solving problems with a time clock on each task.
The registration is open with a free trial and the playoffs are scheduled for Dec 1, 2020. The entire schedule is available on the website.
Eligibility: students in grades 5–12.
Bebras challenges are a bit different. Instead of large scale international contests, teachers are provided with the information to carry out the competition in the school among students using their own devices. The goal of the competition is to improve computational thinking in kids. Tasks require basic coding knowledge to solve problem-based challenges using logical thinking. Bebras is engaged in 50+ countries. The fees are very minimal and vary from country to country.
Eligibility: Middle school kids aged 11–15 years.
Coding Competitions for Kids Aged 12 and up (Middle and High School)
This is one of the most well-respected competitive programs in the computer science and coding industry. Annual competitions are held in different countries around the world. Each country sends a team of qualified students to compete. The commonly used language here is C++ but other languages are allowed. To win, students are required to solve challenges using algorithms and programming the system. Because of the popularity of this competition, participants can easily enter STEM college majors with certificates. 83+ countries participate in competitions.
The date of the competition varies each year; details are available on the website. The fee is very minimal, about $5 to register.
Eligibility: Secondary school- high school students from various countries, check the website to see if you qualify.
This challenge is very illustrious. Students are encouraged to design a unique app to present to the committee once a year, where the submissions from all the students are compared and a winner is announced. The winning teams are invited to sit in the congress to receive the award, and the winning app is displayed in the Capitol building for a year. The certificates are quite valuable in a college admissions file.
Eligibility: middle and high school students in the states.
This coding competition is a subsidiary of the US air force. The main challenges presented to the kids are to solve cyber security issues in the operating systems. Different levels of challenges are presented according to the beginner and advanced levels. Not only schools but approved youth growth can participate as well. Competitions are held online for the most part but the final round is in-person.
The roster finalizations for this year are on Nov 1, 2020. The registration fee for middle school is $165 with exemptions for some.
Eligibility: Middle and high school.
For a person to become proficient in his field, practice is required. That is why these coding competitions are something your kid must participate in. It allows kids to refine their coding skills and work out all the kinks early on in their coding journey.
Keep an eye on the websites of the aforementioned coding competitions and get your kids to participate in them. The certificates and awards play a major role for admissions in good colleges and universities as it shows interest in STEM and coding from a young age and dedication to the field.
What are you waiting for? Form a team and compete with others to develop the best code!