Fort Worth Country Day hosted its first Computer Science Invitational on Saturday, January 11. Computer Science Teacher Shaheen Matuni and 14 of his Computer Programming students, with the help of the Plant Operations Team, set up shop in the Mason Middle School Amon G. Carter Foundation Commons with eight schools competing.
Designed as a community event, which means that FWCD did not compete, the contest drew 29 teams from eight local schools, including Plano West High School, Brock High School, Hebron High School, Plano East Senior High School, Aledo High School, Parish Episcopal School, The Oakridge School and Plano Senior High School.
“Though I’ve attended many competitions with teams in the past, this was the first time in my career to host,” Matuni noted. “There is a huge need for these contests in Fort Worth, so I felt like we could shine a light on our school and establish ourselves as a strong Computer Science program.”
The competition was divided into two levels, novice and advanced. It involved a 45-minute written individual test provided by A+ Computer Science and a two-hour team contest with problems provided by both A+ Computer Science and FWCD students.
Teams could only bring one computer with wireless networking, one keyboard, one mouse, a printer (optional) and one reference book.
“The written test allowed individuals to shine on their own,” Matuni noted. “While the team competition was all about collaboration to get the coding correct.”
The questions on both the written and team tests challenged students to apply their programming concepts and skills as well as their knowledge of the designated program language, which was Java. It also provided an opportunity for students to expand their understanding of computer science beyond the classroom and fostered a potential interest in the field.
FWCD students also served as judges for the team event. As coding questions were completed by teams, the judges would then run the solution through different data sets to ensure that they matched in order to score points. If there was not a match, the judges sent the question back to the team for troubleshooting and possible resubmission. “It was fun to watch the FWCD students take on this judging role,” Matuni said. “They really enjoyed that the tables were turned. I think they learned just as much as the teams competing.”
The competition also allowed the coaches to network. “It’s important for the Computer Science teachers to come together, to talk ‘shop,’ to hear what others are doing,” Matuni noted. “There are so few of us in the area … it’s important for us to get together and share what we are doing, what’s working and what’s not.”
Matuni is proud of the FWCD students who stepped up and helped him make this competition a reality. He hopes it becomes an annual computer programming event that schools start to anticipate.
Students involved in the January 11 event were Rob Batton ’23, Joaquin Castro-Balbi ’22, Hunter Donahue ’21, Jack Ethridge ’21, Eliana Garcia ’23, Kale Graves ’21, Bailey Harrell ’21, Viktor Harrington ’23, Ethan Hickman ’21, Christoper Hoppe ’21, Andrew Nober ’21, Kat Steele ’21, Nate Webster ’21 and Tanmay Yaramachu ’23.