Google Teen Coding Contest Launches Nov. 26

Google announced that its Google Code-In contest for 13- to 17-year-old students will begin Nov. 26.

Google has announced that its third annual Google Code-In contest for teenagers will kick off Nov. 26.

Google Code-In is an international contest to introduce 13- to 17-year-old pre-university students to open-source software development. Prizes include certificates and T-shirts, and 20 grand-prize winners will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., next spring for themselves and a parent or legal guardian. Last year, 542 students from 56 countries participated.

According to Google, the goal of the contest is to give students the opportunity to explore the many types of projects and tasks involved in open-source software development. Globally, open-source software development is becoming a major factor in all industries, from governments, health care, and relief efforts to gaming and large tech companies. The IT industry is always looking for developers, and programming jobs typically rank at the top of the most in-demand positions according to job reports posted by eWEEK and other outlets. As such, programs like those at Google help to cultivate developers of the future.

From late November to mid-January, students will be able to work with 10 open-source projects on a variety of tasks. These projects have all successfully served as mentoring organizations working with university students in the Google Summer of Code program.

Google’s highly touted Google Summer of Code is an annual program, first held from May to August 2005, in which Google awards stipends (of $5,000 as of 2012) to hundreds of students who successfully complete a requested free and open-source software coding project during the summer. The program is open to students aged 18 or over. A similar program, the Google Highly Open Participation contest ran in 2007, and in 2010 Google changed the format slightly and the Google Code-In program was born. Now in its third year, the Google Code-In contest continues to reach students from around the globe. There have been 904 students from 65 countries that completed tasks in the Google Code-In contest in the 2010 and 2011 editions of the program.

Meanwhile, for the Google Code-In, the types of tasks students will be working on will fall into the following categories:

  1. Code: Tasks related to writing or refactoring code;
  2. Documentation/Training: Tasks related to creating/editing documents and helping others learn more;
  3. Outreach/research: Tasks related to community management, outreach/marketing, or studying problems and recommending solutions;
  4. Quality Assurance: Tasks related to testing and ensuring code is of high quality; and
  5. User Interface: Tasks related to user experience research or user interface design and interaction.

“Over the last two years we have had 904 students compete in the contest from 65 countries,” said Stephanie Taylor, a program manager in the open-source team at Google, in a blog post. “This past January we announced the 10 Grand Prize Winners for the 2011 Google Code-In. In June, we flew the winners and a parent/legal guardian to Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters for a five-day/four-night trip, complete with an awards ceremony, talks with Google engineers, Google campus tour and a full day of fun in San Francisco.”

Taylor called on teachers to get involved. “If you are a teacher that would like to encourage your students to participate, please send an email to our team at,” she said. “We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.”