SUSTAINING INFORMATICS
EDUCATION BY CONTESTS
Valentina Dagienė
Institute of Mathematics and Informatics
Vilnius, Lithuania
Content
 Informatics Education: What? Why? How?
 Contests on Programming for Secondary
Education

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International Olympiads in Informatics (IOI)
IOI Conference and Journal
Regional and National Olympiads
 Bebras (Beaver) – Contest on Informatics and
Computer Fluency
 Learning by Contest Ground on Tasks
(Attractive)
What is Informatics?
Informatics Education?
... as Programming
– the second
literacy?
... as Information
Technology – the
powerful tool?
Programming as part of problem
solving
Problem
comprehension
Choosing
algorithms
Encoding
Debugging
Optimizing
Testing
How we should teach Informatics?
•Bringing informatics to schools
through curriculum in a formal track?
•Supporting the informal ways of
introducing pupils to informatics?
•... to introduce informatics through
contests
When I was at school...
 I liked solving
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Crosswords
Rebuses
Brain-teasers
Riddles
Logical quizzes
Puzzles
 Later I liked creating and publishing puzzles
in the journals
My kids and pupils like...
 Playing

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
games with computer
games with mobile devices
table games
pencil and paper games
 Competing individually and by groups
 Competing on collective intellectual level
Why contest?
 For pupils, playful activities are more interesting
and attractive than consistent learning
 Contest and competition
 attract learners
 raise motivation
 stimulate the learning process
 ... and more
 forster planning and self-discipline
 ... and very important - give the possibility to meet peers from all over
the region, country, continent, world
How to develop a contest?
Two types of strategies
top-down
bottom-up
1) Top-down strategy is a challenge to find a suitable
international contest, train students, and join it after
intensive work
2) Bottom-up strategy stresses an opportunity to establish
the original local contest
Olympiads in Informatics
 International Olympiads in Informatics
(IOI)
 Regional Olympiads in Informatics
 National Olympiads in Informatics
Contests in Informatics
IOI
Regional
Olympiads
National Olympiads
Other Contests in
Informatics
International Olympiad in
Informatics
IOI is annual international
informatics competition for
individual contestants
from 70-80 countries
IOI is managed by the
General Assembly and
International Committee
International Olympiad in
Informatics
 IOI is organized in and by one of the
participating countries
 IOI competitions focuses of informatics
problems of an algorithmic nature -programming
 Country delegation consists of 4 students and
2 team leaders
 Two competitions days, 5 hours, 3 (+1) tasks
 Evaluation is based on automated testing
Additional credits of the IOI

Introduction to Informatics education in countries

Influence on developing regional and national contests

Social network for students and team leaders
IOI Conference
 Two-half days conference during Olympiad
 Short and long presentations
 Publications
Richard Forster, UK
Valentina Dagienė,
Lithuania
Troy Vasiga, Canada
International Journal

2007: 17 papers, 174 p.

2008: 16 papers, 207 p.

2009: 14 papers, 174 p.

47 publications from
30 countries during 3 year
http://www.mii.lt/olympiads_in_informatics
Regional and National Olympiads in
Informatics
 National olympiads represent informatics
teaching traditions of each country
 Regional olympiad is a mini model of IOI
 allows the participants to experience what
they will come through in the IOI
 assists team leaders in selecting participants
for the IOI
Baltic Olympiads in Informatics - BOI
Main objectives
 To provide students experience of an international
competition
 To bring together national representatives and
create commonly contest tasks
 To assist team leaders in selecting participants for
the IOI
Important features
 Based on mutual trust of the participating countries
 Form of learning for its participants
 Create neighborly atmosphere, which is highly important
when motivating students for self-help
The BOI contests
Year
Location
Countries
Contestants
2009
Stockholm, SWEDEN
8
48
2008
Gdynia, POLAND
10
59
2007
Güstrow, GERMANY
9
55
2006
Heinola, FINLAND
9
53
2005
Pasvalys, LITHUANIA
8
46
2004
Ventspils, LATVIA
8
48
2003
Tartu, ESTONIA
7
48
2002
Vilnius, LITHUANIA
8
52
2001
Sopot, POLAND
8
49
2000
Haninge, SWEDEN
7
38
1999
Rīga, LATVIA
7
44
1998
Tartu, ESTONIA
5
40
1997
Vilnius, LITHUANIA
4
36
1996
Rīga, LATVIA
3
20
1995
Tartu, ESTONIA
3
28
Baltic Olympiad in Informatics in Poland in 2001
Baltic Olympiad in Informatics in Lithuania in 2002
BOI task classification 1995–2009
Categories
Number of tasks
Combinatorial search
14
Dynamic programming
19
Graph theory
22
Mathematics
10
Ad hoc
23
Lithuanian Olympiads in Informatics
Main objectives
 To bring the discipline of Informatics to the attention
of young people
 To discover, encourage, bring together, challenge,
train for IOI’s and give recognition to the
exceptionally gifted in the field of informatics
 To develop student creativity, programming style,
algorithmic thinking
 To stimulate work of teachers of informatics and
information technology
Lithuanian Olympiads in Informatics
Structure
 Two divisions: juniors and seniors
 1st round – school round
 2nd round – regional round
 3rd round, 1st part – national round
(by the internet)
 3th round, 2nd part – national round
(face-to-face)
Lithuanian Olympiads in Informatics
Number of participants
Year
Round
1st
1990
1998
2001
2002
2003
2008
2009
2nd
3.1
3.2
858
984
1124
1001
1000
1000
57
216
292
257
292
219
290
25
46
47
46
47
47
48
Not available
Not available
2990
3857
3754
3307
3000
Evaluation in Lithuanian Olympiads
 Programs – the black-box testing
 Evaluation of design (algorithm) ideas
 Evaluation of programming style
Participation in Olympiad is
stimulated by attractive tasks
 Interest and engagement are very important in
problem solving
 Tasks should be presented in an attractive way
 Two types of tasks:
1) developing algorithms (writing)
2) analyzing algorithms (reading)
Contests in Informatics
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Contests are a source of inspiration and
innovation
Test-and attractive-tasks-based contests
may be the key to the potential of new
knowledge and attractive way to bind up
technology and education
Bebras (Beaver) – International Contest on
Informatics and Computer Fluency
The main principles of the Bebras contest
are borrowed from the international
mathematical contest Kangaroo
Bebras – International Contest on
Informatics and Computer Fluency

Idea came in 2003, in Lithuania

2004, Sept 25, experimental trial, 779 students

2004, Oct 21, first Lithuanian Beaver contest,
3470 students from 146 schools

....

2008: 10 countries have run the contest with all
together more than 90 000 students

2009: 11 countries

Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Latvia,
Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, The Netherlands, Ukraine
http://www.bebras.org
International Bebras Contest
Adresses all secondary school students
Is usually performed at school
Pupils have to solve 18 - 24 problems within 45 - 60
minutes
Easy, medium and hard problems
Interactive and multiple choice answers
Different tasks for several age groups, e.g.
Benjamins
Cadetts
Juniors
Seniors
10-12 years (grade 5-6)
13-14 years (grade 7-8)
15-16 years (grade 9-10)
17-19 years (grade 11-13)
Research Question
How to convey Informatics concepts by a contest?

What kind of concepts?

What are good tasks in an international contest?

How to involve concepts in good tasks?
Attractive tasks – keystone of contests

Very important to choose interesting tasks,
powerful, attractive, surprise...

Powerful: what educational power they contains,
whether they stimulate the motivation of learning

Different types of tasks: starting from common
questions of computer science application to specific
integrated problems related to algorithms, computer
history, programming languages, logics, discrete
mathematics, etc.

Important to choose the problems so that the
participants could have as equal positions as
possible irrespective of hardware or software
Attractive Tasks

are interesting, powerful, surprising, inspiring, ...
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stimulate and motivate to use ICT in an intelligent
way

offer equal chance for all pupils coming from
different countries and different school types

offer possibility to learn something interesting
35
Task Categories
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INF - Information comprehension
representation (symbolic, numeric, visual)
coding, encryption
ALG - Algorithmic thinking
including programming aspects
USE - Using computer systems
eg. search engines, email, spread sheet, etc.
general principles, but no specific systems
STRUC - Structures, patterns and arrangements
combinatory
discrete structures (graphs, etc)
PUZ - Puzzles
logic
games (mastermind, minesweeper, etc.)
SOC - ICT and Society
social, ethical, cultural, international, legal issues
Learning Concepts
Students may learn concepts by
appropriate tasks
 Concepts of
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Information Comprehension
Algorithmic Thinking
Modeling
Basic Logic
Discrete Structures
Functionality of Computer Systems
Use of Computer Systems
etc.
Fastest Way
Beaver wants to go home as fast as possible. In the drawing
you see minutes needed to come from one point to another.
What is the best possible time?
A) 17 minutes
B) 14 minutes
C) 15 minutes
D) 16 minutes
Benjamin, hard
Paperchase

Peter writes on a paper the
letters he finds on his way
following the arrows. Some of
the arrows have no letter

Which one of the following
sequences of letters cannot be
written by Peter on his way
from START to FINISH?
A.
B.
C.
D.
abaabba
ba
abaaab
aab
Bebras Workshops for develping tasks
The Bebras Community has worshops for developing tasks in 2005,
2006, 2007, 2009 in Balsiai, Lithuania; and 2008 in Torun, Poland
Balsiai
Lithuania
2009
May, 2009, Balsiai, Lithuania
Conclusion
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Informatics Education is a fascinating research with
a big impact on the real world, full of spectacular
ideas and great challenges
Contests play an important role as a tool of
motivation and inspiration
Olympiad in Informatics is a globally recognized
way to involve pupils into informatics and strong
motive to improve their programming skills
Bebras contest on informatics and computer
fluency is established to introduce Informatics
concepts to pupils regardless of whether she or he is
taught informatics at school or not
THANKS!
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dagiene - ISSEP 2010