Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

High School Coding Contest Results

Author: Rick Phelan
Published: 12.14.16

Grand Prize WinnersThe Sonoma County Office of Education sponsored a high school coding contest that culminated on Saturday, December 10. Students demonstrated the use of programming and creativity skills with low-cost credit card sized computers known as a Raspberry Pi’s. The contest’s theme was “The Internet of Things.”  Students were challenged to make a product that served an identified school need. Contestants brainstormed possibilities and engineered using the Raspberry Pi along with other materials from September 15 to  December 10.  The only limitation students had was the total cost of the project.  Costs for individual projects were not to exceed $400.

The idea for the contest was generated when Healdsburg High School math and engineering teacher Bryan Davis approached SCOE staff last May.  Davis was interested in a county wide high school student event focused on coding and ‘making’ with minimal costs to sponsoring schools.  A steering committee was formed involving Davis, Cardinal Newman High School student Ethan Burrell, and SCOE Educational Support Staff Casey Shea and Rick Phelan.  The idea for a Raspberry Pi Coding Contest evolved in subsequent meetings and the challenge was shared with all Sonoma County high schools in September.   

Students from six Sonoma County High Schools worked on projects during the Fall.  Entries were evaluated by judges at this past Saturday’s contest using the following criteria:

  • School Need & Impact- addresses a common school need that is functional & practical (eg. reduces school carbon footprint; serves a common student need in a new way; increases faculty efficiency)
  • Aesthetically pleasing- the device compliments the environment where it resides; the art of human design is manifested by creators
  • Programming- a flow chart and description of the program(s) are offered to help others replicate the product at their sites
  • Inspiration- the project inspires others to be ‘makers’ with Raspberry Pi elements

Four awards were given at this year’s contest:   

Genius Programmer Award- Technology High students Theo Kell and Iain Rogers won the programming award for their entry which best demonstrated the use of programming. Their project provided school printing services using switches and a humorous computer interface.

Social Impact Award- Cardinal Newman students Ethan Burrell, Steven Bucher and Matthew Matulaitis created an automated message delivery system which best addressed social needs in a school setting from the perspective of contest judges.

McGyver Award- Maria Carillo students Ian Strachan and Varun Ramakrishnan created an automated lock box  to win the prize for the entry best demonstrating solid mechanical design and function.    

Grand Prize Award- Healdsburg High students Emmet and Tate Dobson won the overall award for a hall pass system they created with the Raspberry Pi and near field communication (NFC) chips.   


Additional Resources

SCOE Coding & Robotics Pages

Sonoma County Robotics Challenge Event for Grades 4-8

Blog: Technology for Learners