I got a chance to participate in an amazing event called CodeDay. Two dozen youth from around the Corvallis area descended on Hewlett Packard for programming party that would last a full twenty four hours.
Festivities started at noon. Ideas were pitched and teams formed. The goal was to complete an application or game within twenty four hours. The event was sponsored by StudentRND who sent a facilitator down from Seattle, but most of the planning was done by a local high school student who had participated in a previous event and wanted to help bring it to Corvallis.
In the evening, as projects progressed, there were seminars on programming frameworks like Construct and Meteor. Several of the groups completed their projects using Construct having no prior experience with it.
As the night wore on, the students took a break to get a "ghost" tour of the HP facility. They got to see the FAB facility and giant industrial web presses, both of which were eerily silent for the long weekend. Security checked in on us periodically, but we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
It was amazing to see the kids keep up their energy and focus for such a long period. I haven't had to pull an all-nighter since my Navy days and by 6 a.m. I was flagging and took a short nap. The other chaperons snuck some shut-eye here and there, as did more than one of the students.
By nine in the morning, the coding was over. It was time to present. The judges spent some time talking with the teams, and then they each gave a presentation and demonstrated the game play.
The game ideas and implementations were amazing. A couple of them were quite playable and involved compelling story lines. One, programmed by a single student, dealt with protecting a planet using bio-remediation and had amazing graphics.
I sure wish I had had an opportunity like this when I was younger. The tools and systems available to upcoming programmers are amazing. I was proud that HP was able to sponsor the event and thought every minute was worth it.