“Create a computer program that will benefit the public. Make it interactive. And then present it to the judges.”
When Farragut High School computer science teacher Mary Lin offered the Coding Club the opportunity to compete in the third CodeTN competition, it was a “Yes!” The students knew it would be a six-month process, but they also knew that the first-place team would receive $5,000 for their classroom and $500 for each student on the team — a pretty sweet deal. Second place wasn’t bad either: $2,500 per classroom and $250 per student.
“In the competition, they develop a dynamic web application with a database attached that provides some sort of service to the community,” Lin said.
CodeTN is a free regional competition for high school students sponsored by the Great Schools Partnership. It started three years ago and this year included nine high schools in the greater Knoxville area. Each year Farragut’s Coding Club, created by Lin, has entered. The first year FHS students designed an app to help travelers know which immunizations they needed when they traveled. Last year the app was called “Craftical,” and suggested high-level crafts that could be made from recyclable items.
In 2014-2015, Bearden High School took first place, with FHS in second, but last year and now this year, FHS has been on top.
Lin said competitions such as this one are crucial for the students, because once they learn programming skills in the computer science classes she and Judy Siebert teach, the kids need somewhere to apply them.
The Coding Club, made up of Lin’s and Siebert’s students, formed two teams of six and one team of seven. Coming up with a new idea that could help people is the hardest task, they said.
The team of seven created “Food MD,” a program with a repository of foods. Users can get information, such as how to store different foods and how to tell if a bad spot is a no-never-mind or means the food needs to be thrown away.
On Jan. 13 team members Ethan Davila, Lauren Fiet, Brianne Martin, Dennis Ross, Tyler Senter, Claire Stoneham and Eric Wang got the news that they had won the big prize.
Lin said the students’ food app has attracted the attention of a local business.
“They want to know why the younger generation created that design,” she said. “Why were they interested in that subject? Potentially they will help them develop the app so they can develop a true product.”
Two questions remain: how will Lin and Siebert split the $5,000 and what will the students do next year?
In addition to the CodeTN competition, last year the Coding Club went to Georgia to national competition sponsored by Lockheed Martin called “Code Quest.” The competition takes the top three winners from each region. Farragut placed third in the advanced division. The team will be returning to that competition in April (novicem advanced teams).
“I’m very proud of these guys,” Lin said. “It just shows you just have to teach a kid a skill and let them go and see what they can do with it. It’s amazing.”