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Hackathon to be launched in NC

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This is the first time the competition is being held in the Province.

COMPETITION: Pupils at Thabane High School are participating in the national hackathon competition.

THE TANKS Sita project, which is a national computer hackathon competition for pupils, is being launched for the first time in the Northern Cape.

The competition is open to pupils in grades 8 and 9.

The hackathon sees competitors being given a problem to solve using a computer programme. The adjudicators watch and mark them accordingly.

According to the local co-ordinator, Riana van der Merwe, a mathematics lecturer at Sol Plaatje University at the Heritage Studies Department, four schools in the Northern Cape have been chosen to take part.

The schools identify 60 (six teams of five pupils) grade 8 and 9 pupils. Three trained facilitators teach the pupils to play the coding game, Tanks.

A winning team of five pupils is chosen from each participating school and the four winning teams will compete against each other during the first week of October.

The winning Northern Cape team will go to Durban to compete in the national hackathon at the end of on 25 October, where the national winner will be determined.

The competition is sponsored by the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) and exposes South African pupils to the possibilities of being solution developers and designers.

The winners share a R5 000 cash prize for their schools and other individual prizes.

Among the local schools chosen are Emang Mmogo, Vuyolwethu, Thabane and Dr EP Lekhela high schools.

The event was first held in 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The hackathon called on participants to create innovative and functioning solutions that aim to solve the socio-economic challenges that South Africa faces, as defined in our National Development Plan.

The project’s emphasis is on investing in school pupils, to create a pipeline of software developers who can feed into future hackathon events. Last year five provinces participated and a total of 720 pupils were reached and introduced to coding.

The Tanks coding app was developed as a postgraduate project in the Department of Computing Sciences at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. It’s objective is introducing pupils to coding, without the need for computers. It makes use of mobile devices and actual puzzle pieces.

During 2018 the app was used to reach nearly 3 000 pupils.