Students take second place in national coding competition Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

shoreless lake school
Fr. Miguel Galvez teaches coding to seventh graders Alex Brummel, left, and Simeon Eberle at Shoreless Lake School in Sauk City. The students were part of the recent national Code Rush competition, in which the school’s team finished in second place. (Catholic Herald photos/Kevin Wondrash)

SAUK CITY -- Not all that long ago, one may have heard the words “computer programming” and had an idea what it meant.

One would picture someone typing letters, numbers, and symbols onto a computer and creating a program or application.

These days, “coding” is the more popular word for it, and it’s being taught in many schools.

Some coding classes add an element of fun and competition to the learning.

Several students in Sauk City recently went through such an experience, and they had a lot to be proud of when they were finished.

Coding competition

The team from Shoreless Lake School finished second in the 2018 Code Rush competition in the middle school division.

The Code Rush uses CodeMonkey software where students learn to code using a programming language called CoffeeScript, a simplified form of the Java language.

Starting in late February, on Mondays and Thursdays, new challenges would be unlocked and the Shoreless Lake students would have to complete them using coding.

While one side of the screen looked like a series of letters, numbers, and symbols, the other side showed things such as a monkey moving across the screen and picking up a banana.

The code the students used would have to make those actions happen on the screen.

Some of the challenges also involved trying to find a mistake in the code and fixing it.

The Shoreless Lake team was made up of all eight students in the school -- six sixth grade girls and two seventh grade boys.

The seventh graders already had one year of coding last year at the school, whereas the sixth graders were in their first year of coding classes.

Each student had to complete his or her own work in the competition, but “ if one of them got stuck, the others could help,” said Fr. Miguel Galvez, computer science teacher, and also the pastor at Divine Mercy Parish in Sauk City, where Shoreless Lake is located.

“I really liked the course because they don’t even notice how much they’re learning. It seems like they’re playing, but they’re actually learning,” said Father Galvez.

The challenges would get tougher as the weeks went on, but the Shoreless Lake team maintained a first place lead up until the final day of competition.

“It was challenging, but it’s not like it was super hard,” said seventh grader Simeon Eberle. “There were some days when it was harder than others also,” he added.

“It was fun, but hard,” said seventh grader Alex Brummel. “It’s fun to code.”

“It was fun but it was also really challenging at some parts. It was a good challenge for us,” said sixth grader Beth Kunz.

“It was definitely quite a challenge, because sometimes the challenges they opened were really hard, other times they were surprisingly easy, so we couldn’t really tell what was coming next. It was fun,” said sixth grader Elizabeth Webb.

Competing to the end

The final day of the Code Rush was on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, a day students had off of school.

Father Galvez asked their parents permission for the students to come into the school that day and complete the final challenges, with the hopes of capping off a winning competition.

Most were able to come in, while others worked remotely from home.

The final challenges were some of the toughest, but the students were able to complete them, with the students who finished first giving guidance to the others.

While there was a first place tie, the winner was determined by the amount of time it took a team to finish, and Shoreless Lake finished in second place.

“It was very good for the students to see what they’re capable of,” said Father Galvez. “They were able to finish second in a nationwide contest.”

The students said they are ready for next year’s Code Rush.

“We’re going to come back and we’re going to get into first place right away and hold it the whole time,” said Webb.


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