Coding is a form of creative expression. The recently held SLASSCOM TechKids Online Coding competition is a prime example of that. Since the start of the lockdown, more and more kids have been hooked to their digital devices, not for playing games or watching movies, but to put their logical and creative skills into action. TechKids online coding sessions and its digital learning portal, set the right platform for learning a skill of the future. Then SLASSCOM TechKids first ever coding competition was launched. Ninety children from all over Sri Lanka registered and the race against time began.
Within the small period of 10 days, participants were required to code and create a game, animation or an interactive story using Scratch programming language. By the time the competition reached the deadline, there were a total of 30 entries (15 games, 8 animations, and 7 interactive stories) creatively explaining how they would fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The level of research, detail and thought put into each of the programs was clearly visible in each beautifully crafted code. Every game, animation and story was evaluated by an expert panel consisting of experienced software engineers from the industry. The panel evaluated each entry on various criteria such as; use of different Scratch elements, programming constructs and emphasis on creativity, empathy and national unity.
Sixth grader Lithuli Mehansa Payagala of Musaeus College bagged the BEST GAME award. Coding sensation Lithuli has already won two international coding competitions in the last year and runs her own YouTube channel (Coding Girl) that features coding videos on various topics such as game development, programming concepts and physical computing using BBC Micro:bit. Lithuli’s was a pac-man like game where you need to reach a safety unit under the Sri Lanka flag, while protecting yourself using sanitizers, masks and collecting lots of food! You can play Lithuli’s amazing game at: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/392501494/
The BEST ANIMATION award went to 8th Grader Mueena Shahmy from Al Iman Schools. Mueena’s animation talks through the different symptoms of COVID-19, the safety measures such as washing hands, social distancing, using sanitizers, and wearing face masks. A noteworthy feature of this animation is Mueena’s self-recorded voice narrative that perfectly synced-up with her animation frames. You can enjoy Mueena’s animation at: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/400642928
The BEST STORY award was won by Nishitha Wikramasinghe from Thurstan College. Nishitha’s story themed around a much-needed topic of national unity and diversity. The characters chosen from different communities and the carefully crafted dialogues gave a strong message that we Sri Lankans are a single nation and we can fight and defeat the pandemic as a single nation. Nishitha’s story is an eye-opener to many of us and a great lesson of national unity portrayed through creative coding.
Though the above three entries stood out of the rest, the other 27 entries sent were simply amazing and deserve honorary mentions too.
While winners will receive their gift vouchers and certificates, all the participants will receive certificates of participation. SLASSCOM TechKids would like to state their appreciation of their amazing effort and creative talent.
Supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy of Sri Lanka, SLASSCOM TechKids is committed to facilitate coding education for all children regardless of geographical boundaries, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. Through this initiative, TechKids has reached nearly 1500 students through classroom style coding workshops in schools and SLASSCOM member companies, weekly online coding workshops and through its newly launched online learning platform (www.techkids.lk). The weekly online coding workshops attracted an average of 65 students from 18 different schools with 1 in 3 students been girls. As TechKids continue to grow, we expect more students to benefit from the initiative and more participants for our next coding competition. Stay tuned with SLASSCOM Facebook page for more exciting events.
From left Best Story Award winner Nishitha Wikramasinghe, Best Game Award Lithuli Payagala, Best Animation Award Mueena Shahmy