What are the changes to the Challenge?
Based on your feedback from our Challenge survey we are continuing to improve and revise the NCSS Challenge each year.
February 2021 changes
|Newbies, Beginners (Blockly), Beginners (Python) and Intermediate streams
The content of these streams will be the same as the July 2020 version, however each module has been refreshed with some new problems.
July 2020 changes
Newbies, Beginners (Blockly), and Beginners (Python) streams
| Intermediate stream
This stream is being completely reviewed for the July 2020 Challenge. Key changes include:
* The Intermediate stream will follow on from the Beginners stream, so Beginners is now assumed knowledge for this stream. Week 1 of Intermediate will offer a fast-paced refresher on Beginners content, with a strong focus on functions in particular.
* The stream will focus on more advanced control structures, including while loops, data structures, including lists and dictionaries, and modularity, using files and functions, in closer alignment with the year 9/10 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies.
* We're adding interactive steps to the content slides and optional interactive hints to the problems, to help reinforce concepts and make learning more engaging.
| Advanced stream
The July 2020 Advanced stream will be problem-based, with a series of content slides and problems, similar to the other streams. We will not be running the Big 2 Tournament this year.
The Advanced stream will introduce more advanced data structures, Object Oriented programming, and recursion.
| Curriculum links
For detailed information about the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies links for each stream, see the ACA curriculum resources page.
Feb 2020 changes
| No Advanced/Tournament stream
The Advanced/Tournament stream will NOT be running during the February 2020 NCSS Challenge. The Newbies, Beginners (Blocky & Python), and Intermediate streams will run as usual. The Advanced/Tournament stream will be run later in 2020.
| Beginners content changes
Weeks 4 and 5 of the Beginners (Blockly and Python) streams have been reviewed and edited. The functions material has been brought forward to Week 4, and expanded to provide more in-depth information and give students more practice using functions.
Please note that these streams will no longer cover cryptography. If you would like to cover cryptography with your students, we recommend the Cryptography - Cyber Security course.
| 5 week points and solutions release
Content is still released week by week, but students can earn points on all problems right up until the end of the competition (last year students had only 2 weeks to earn points).
Unlike previous years, solutions will not be released to students during or after the Challenge. If you would like to review solutions with your class, verified teachers have access to the solutions via the Teacher Notes on each problem.
| Paired Problems
In the Newbies, Beginners (Blockly), and Beginners (Python) streams all problems are paired to provide students with extra opportunities to practice new concepts. The first problem in each pair typically provides extra scaffolding and support for new concepts, while the second problem builds on the first to reinforce learning.
If you are teaching with the Challenge in the classroom, the first problem in a pair can be worked through together with the class, and the second problem can then be completed by students independently.
|Newbies this year will have paired problems to improve learning by reinforcing concepts learned. This year we will be narrating all slides and problems in Newbies. The Newbies stream teaches Blockly and is designed for younger students with no prior experience at programming. This level is most suited to students in late primary or junior secondary school (10 - 14 year olds). The stream is now aligned to the year 5/6 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, and the language has been simplified to better suit students of this level.|
| Beginners is being completely reviewed in 2019. We have added paired problems and interactive steps to slides to help reinforce concepts and make learning more engaging. Beginners is now more closely aligned with the year 7/8 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, and we have also simplified the reading level.
Remember we have 2 courses at the Beginners level, one in Blockly and one in Python.
The Beginners stream is designed for students with no prior experience at programming. This level is most suited to students in junior secondary school (12 - 16 year olds), or older students with no experience who want to start with the basics.
|Intermediate has now been updated to more clearly follow on from Beginners. The assumed knowledge for this course is now clearer from week 1. Students will need to have completed Beginners before or have had experience in coding to complete this stream. This content also, now more closely aligns with the year 9/10 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. This stream is targeted at students in middle secondary school and above (14 - 18 year olds).|
|Advanced stream will be running a card game tournament (Big Two) 🏆! An all new way to compete, with code. Students will build an Artificial Intelligence (AI) to play a competitive card game, and then go head to head against other AIs. We'll teach them the basics of how to build an AI, but it's their job to figure out a winning strategy! Of course, our tutors will be on hand to assist, answering questions and offering advice. This stream is designed for experienced students ready to stretch themselves.|