High School Students Get Creative in IUPUI Computer Programming Contest

Release Date: 
Mar 26 2009

(March 26, 2009) -- It's not surprising to find a group of high school students consumed on a Saturday with the popular arcade game Whack-a-Mole. What might be surprising is that they weren't in an arcade but in a computer lab.

How many moles pop up at any single time? You might try to count as you're trying to whack them back into their holes. Or, better yet, you might write a computer program to deliver a more exact answer. That's exactly what area students who competed in the IUPUI High School Computer Programming Contest did.

Twenty-eight students from six high schools participated in the third annual contest, which was hosted by IUPUI's Department of Computer and Information Science. Students were presented with 10 programming problems and given three hours to write the programs. They were judged by the speed with which they completed the programs, and how the programs conformed to the specifications of the problems. Students competed in teams of two members.

"The contest problems are typical of those attempted by college level students," said Shiaofen Fang, associate professor and chair of the Computer Science Department. "Our faculty are pleased at the number of students who accepted the challenge of this contest and are impressed at the originality that is evident in their answers."

The winning team was Jessica Fisher and Michael Wintermeyer, both students at Park Tudor. This is the second time in three years that Fisher has competed on the winning team, and the third consecutive year that a Park Tudor team has won the IUPUI programming contest.

Second place went to another Park Tudor team consisting of Sam Clarke and Jeff Shen. Sidney Fletcher and Ross Larson of Zionsville Community High School earned third place for their efforts.

The contest was open to all high school students in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. The contest problems and entries were created and judged by IUPUI students who are members of the Computer Science Club.

"The problems we created are meant to reinforce the fundamentals in computer science, such as data representation, which is critical to the operation of most software used today," said Kenneth Eldridge, a computer science major at IUPUI and secretary of the Computer Science Club.

In addition to the programming contest, the IUPUI Department of Computer and Information Science sponsored a teacher training workshop. For most computing teachers in Indiana, computer science is not among their primary areas of expertise and a subject they were asked to take over. They report that workshops like the one at IUPUI fill a critical need for hands-on training and professional development.

"The teacher training workshop and the programming contest are two examples of how IUPUI is reaching out to the K-12 community," said Fang. "Our goal is to be the premiere provider of computer science training in central Indiana."