Swift Student Challenge 2024: Apple will give the starting signal in February

In recent years, Apple has announced the “Swift Student Challenge” programming competition for young people, mostly at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). The latter takes place in June by default, so the Swift Student Challenge was often started in April or May. Now Apple is turning the concept inside out. Because even before anything is known about WWDC24, it will already be announced that the Swift Student Challenge 2024 will start in February next year and will bring a new prize category with “Distinguished Winners”. Details can be found here.

Swift Student Challenge 2024: Starts in February, 50 extended chances to win

The Swift Student Challenge has been around since 2020; Now the concept, which has been tried out for four years, is being redesigned a bit. “The next challenge will start in February 2024 and will include a new category in which 50 'Distinguished Winners' will be recognized for outstanding submissions“, It says in the corresponding press release. It also notes that thousands of young people have already gotten a start in app development through the competition. Apple's own programming language called Swift was used for this purpose, "which is also used by professionals".

It is noted that out of the total 350 winners of the upcoming Swift Student Challenge, 50 will go to Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, California are invited. There they should have the opportunity to exchange ideas with each other and with the Apple team. Additionally, all 350 winners will receive a one-year membership in the Apple Developer Program. The “new category” for 50 outstanding winners apparently does not mean a new programming task, but rather a new prize category that expands the Developer Program membership to include a visit to Cupertino.

Swift Playgrounds and new resources for learning to code

The starting point for learning and creating is again the Swift Playgrounds app. It not only teaches the basics of using the Swift programming language, but also gives you opportunities to implement your own ideas. Apple has also released even more materials that teachers can use to incorporate the app and general programming projects into lessons or work groups. In addition to new step-by-step instructions and other explanatory aids, these four new projects for learning and practicing programming are now available:

  • Design a Simple App: Students can create an app prototype Keynote to learn the basics of app design, practice rapid prototyping, and get feedback, following the same steps as professional developers.
  • Build with Stacks and Shapes: Students can take the first steps to developing an app in Swift Playgrounds and code a self-portrait or artwork using SwiftUI to learn the basics of user interface design.
  • Build custom shapes: Students can take an app interface to the next level. You can design a special shape; Learn how to graph the coordinates or program their custom shape using SwiftUI and the About Me sample app in Swift Playgrounds.
  • Design an app icon: Students can learn and apply app design principles to create a unique and memorable app icon that conveys an idea; You can practice rapid prototyping, get feedback, and upload the icon to Swift Playgrounds to become part of an app.

App download and extensive information material

  • General information about Swift Playgrounds: Preface
  • Swift Playgrounds Download for iPad: iPadOS App Store
  • Swift Playgrounds Download for Mac: Mac App Store
  • Swift Student Challenge main page with all information: Overview
  • Education Community with information for teachers: Sign up

The majority think programming knowledge is important, but haven't started yet

If you open Apple's press release on the topic, you will also find a reference to one there YPulse survey from September 2023, which was conducted among 1.008 students aged 13 to 24 in the USA. This survey shows, among other things, that 92% of respondents believe that programming skills are important. A full 94% also believe that coding will be an important skill in the future job market. At the same time, 85% say that they have not yet taken any steps to learn programming themselves, but would like to do so.

This, of course, benefits Apple because the company can support its efforts to bring Apple devices, Apple software and the Swift programming language into classrooms with data collection. “We know that students are eager to learn programming skills to solve challenges they care about [...] Apple is releasing new coding resources for students and teachers, working with community partners on dedicated Swift programs, and early announcing the 2024 Swift Student Challenge scheduleSusan Prescott, Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations and Education & Enterprise Marketing at Apple, is quoted as saying, among other things.

Much more information and insights

If you are interested in the topic, want to program with Swift yourself or even want to take part in the Swift Student Challenge 2024, then I recommend you take the current one press release to call for it. There you will find some more information as well as insights into the previous activities and teaching efforts. Otherwise, the links listed above should also help you get started. With them you get the free Swift Playgrounds app, information material for getting started and teaching material for school and university projects. Good luck!

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