Learning and application go hand in hand, and Affreej, along with Canada based 21st Century Learning, provided their students the perfect opportunity to test the coding skills they have been honing over the last year with Scratchathon, held on April 10th, 2021. A block-coding based, game-developing online competition, it not only demanded pragmatism and collaboration but also required participants to brush up on their presentation skills, attracting 66 students from around the world, including USA, Canada, KSA and Australia.
Participants were at liberty to choose their teammates, forming 25 teams, each with 2 to 4 members, and were divided into a Junior group and Senior group. Each team was given 3 weeks to communicate with their partners, brainstorm and amalgamate their ideas, then design and develop an engaging 3-level game centered around the theme “NASA”, using the block-coding based programming language Scratch. On the Day of the event, each team presented their game to a panel of four highly qualified and percipient judges: Scott Shapland, a Senior Training Facilitator at Saudi Aramco, KSA; Khurram Gullistan, CEO at VinnCorp, USA; Mudassir Azeemi, Head of Design System Governance at RingCentral, USA; Khalid Sethi, CEO at IP Integrators, USA. Along with ingenuity and creativity, participants were judged according to their presentation skills and on how well acquainted they were with the logic behind their code.
The projects were a smooth array of highly colourful and meticulously thought-through games, from navigating fiery rocket ships through a wide expanse of star laden space to informative Solar System quizzes, a testament to what young minds can achieve together with the right skills and the right tools at their disposal, even if this collaboration process spanned across thousands of miles. Alas, it was a tough competition, but the judges were able to decide on the winners, Abu Bakr from the team “Magnanimous Mars” taking first position in the Junior group and Inaaya and Isra from the team “Space Indeed” taking first position in the Senior group. Of course, the winners were gifted cash prizes and every single student was awarded a NASA certificate acknowledging the effort and time they had invested in their projects and as an encouragement for further participation in coding events, no matter how ambitious.
Competitions that promote collaboration and peer work in children have dwindled into almost non-existence in this pandemic reigned world, since orchestrating online events can be quite a challenge, stunting whatever confidence, presentation skills and communication skills that children would have developed and worked on pre-pandemic. Parents were thrilled by the chance for their children to work as a team, appreciating the courage and sense of accomplishment that was instilled in them as they saw their work successfully come to live in front of an audience and have encouraged similar activities to be organised in the future.
Interested in experiencing the competition yourself? Watch the recorded event on YouTube:
Coverage by: Aiza Asim