Students from across Texas gathered in the Heritage High School cafeteria early Saturday morning for the annual Frisco FirstBytes (FFB) coding competition.
What started seven years ago with just 75 students from the local area has grown to 383 students on 141 teams representing 27 schools and over a dozen school districts. Students traveled from as far as Round Rock and Abilene to compete at FFB.
During the competition, students competed by solving Computer Science programming challenges ranging from beginner problems to advanced algorithm problems. The goal is to inspire more students to pursue the Computer Science (CS) field both in high school and college.
Students coded primarily in Java, one of the most popular, in-demand, programming languages in use in industry today. Students are developing strong skills that will be valuable in high-tech careers.
The demand for skilled software developers continues to outpace the students pursuing degrees in the field and the District Computer Science teachers want to help solve that through increased involvement in the competition.
“Including coaches and staff, we had well over 400 people in support of the event this morning - by far our largest attendance ever,” said Scott Kaufman, Memorial High School CS teacher. “Every year we grow and next year, we expect to grow by at least another 10 to 15 teams.”
Students from Frisco ISD made up a significant number of the competitors with teams from nearly every high school in the district.
Students arrived early in the morning carrying donuts, snacks, laptops, desktops, mechanical keyboards, calculators, scratch paper and tons of personalized gear that clearly showed that this is much more than a hobby.
Soon, cords were hooked up and the room began to heat up as the computers got going and the tension began to rise in the room.
When the students were given the go-ahead, one team member from each team ran across the cafeteria to pick up their problem-set packet to bring it back to the team where they immediately began the process of going through problems, keeping in mind their two-hour time limit.
Meanwhile teachers walked around the cafeteria helping to debug the competition platform and to answer questions as they arose.
“We work in coordination with the University of Texas at Dallas on the advanced problem set to make sure that the students not only are challenged with very tough problems but also so they get a ‘warm up’ for the UTD Battle of the Brains contest,” Kaufman said.
FFB is an exceptional contest because it offers three divisions for students:
Beginner - for those a few months into the first Computer Science class
Novice - for students who have never competed but have finished their first CS class
Advanced - for students who have significant competition experience and programming skills
“FFB is a unique opportunity, especially for beginning programmers, as it's the only contest with a division for students with less than 2 months experience,” said Gerald Page, advanced Computer Science teacher at the Career and Technical Education Center. “We're pleased that area students and coaches have made Frisco FirstBytes such a success, and we are also grateful for the support provided by UTD over the years, especially Dr. Ivor Page and his competition students.”
At the end of the contest, trophies and medals were awarded to the top three teams in the beginner, novice and advanced divisions.
Congratulations to these Frisco ISD teams who won awards at the 7th Frisco FirstBytes.
Heritage High School, 2nd Place - Teachers Christine Peterson & Ryan Jarrell
Centennial High School, 2nd Place - Teachers Michael Barnette & William Hanna