The Department of Engineering and Computer Science recently organized and hosted Programming Frenzy, the first in a planned series of computer programming events.
“A programming frenzy is an informal programming contest,” stated Leila Wallace, Assistant Professor of Computer Science. “The goal is to have fun and share the joy of programming with other programmers.”
Nearly a dozen participants arrived and formed teams of two or three members. Each team used one laptop in this bring-your-own-computer event to program for nearly three hours. The teams coded with the newest beta version of Scratch, a programming language created by the MIT Media Lab that produces animation or games and can be found online for free.
The frenzy began at 5 p.m. and—with free pizza eaten during the coding—continued until 8 p.m., when students were given a chance to display their creations. A popular vote awarded seniors Nathaniel Butterworth and Mathew Cowdery with the best program overall for their video, which featured an undersea battle and LINUX jokes. The prize was a new flash drive.
All the programs were enjoyable, according to senior computer science major Logan Scavo. “One team ended up making a romantic tragedy involving a software pirate falling in love with a Microsoft worker,” he stated. “Another team made a movie about a spacefaring unicorn seeking to recover a stolen fortune cookie, and another group didn't make a movie, instead creating a game similar to the old Tron arcade game.”
Since Scratch is a visual, drag-and-drop language, it’s easy for newcomers and those completely unfamiliar with coding to use.
“We had the full range of programming experience—from computer science students who have been programming since childhood to a writing major who had never programmed before coming to the event,” Logan explained. “Within the first few minutes of the competition, everybody felt comfortable with the programming environment.”
Look for details to be sent via email regarding the next Programming Frenzy, and visit www.scratch.mit.edu to explore the code and others’ games.
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