Apple’s Swift Student Challenge 2024 to Introduce Distinguished Winners Category and New Coding Resources for Educators

In a bid to nurture coding skills among students worldwide, Apple’s Swift Student Challenge is set to make a return in February 2024 with exciting updates. The upcoming challenge will feature a new category, acknowledging 50 Distinguished Winners for standout submissions, alongside the introduction of fresh Everyone Can Code resources aimed at supporting educators.

Since its inception in 2020, the Swift Student Challenge has served as a platform for students globally to showcase their coding creativity, utilizing Swift, the same programming language employed by industry professionals. The latest edition, opening its doors in February 2024, promises to elevate the experience with the recognition of Distinguished Winners, adding a competitive edge to the challenge.

The importance of coding and app development skills is increasingly acknowledged among students. A recent independent survey of over 1,000 students in the United States conducted by YPulse revealed that 92 percent believe learning to code is crucial, with 94 percent considering coding an essential skill for the future job market. The study also highlighted students recognizing the broader benefits of coding, including fostering creativity, addressing local and global challenges, and contributing to a positive impact on the world.

Despite the widespread interest, the survey pointed out that 85 percent of students have yet to embark on coding but express a desire to learn, while 48 percent are unsure where to commence. Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app aims to address this gap by guiding learners from their initial line of code to building their first app in Swift. The app, designed for iPad and Mac, serves as a versatile tool for beginners to explore and experiment with coding and app development.

Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations and Education & Enterprise Marketing, emphasizes Apple’s commitment to supporting aspiring student developers. She states, “We believe that everyone can learn to code and build apps, and we’re proud to support and recognize aspiring student developers with the Swift Student Challenge each year.”

In collaboration with educators globally, Apple is working to bring app development into classrooms. Four new Everyone Can Code Projects have been introduced to assist educators in guiding students through their coding journey while creating apps that address issues they care about.

Tina Lewis, a seventh-grade life sciences teacher and Apple Learning Coach, shares her experience of creating a safe space for students through coding. Having taught herself to code in 2021 using Everyone Can Code resources and Swift Playgrounds, Lewis emphasizes the importance of sparking curiosity and building resilience in the face of failure.

Apple’s Community Education Initiative, which operates in 99 countries and regions, collaborates with organizations like the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). NC3 provides professional development opportunities to equip instructors with the skills to teach App Development with Swift. This year, NC3 aims to assist more students in submitting their app projects for the Swift Student Challenge in 2024.

To facilitate coding education further, Apple has introduced four new Everyone Can Code Projects, offering step-by-step resources to guide students in developing essential skills while creating apps. These projects can be integrated into various subjects, providing educators with versatile tools for the classroom or coding clubs. The projects introduce students to SwiftUI, a modern way to build user interfaces, using Swift Playgrounds.

The new coding resources and Everyone Can Code Projects are now available in the Apple Education Community, offering educators a platform to find resources, connect with peers, and enhance their teaching capabilities. Swift Playgrounds 4.4, supporting Swift 5.9 and SDKs for iPadOS 17 and macOS Sonoma, is also available.

Students eager to participate in the Swift Student Challenge can anticipate a three-week window in February 2024 to submit their app playgrounds. Out of the 350 overall winners, 50 Distinguished Winners will have the unique opportunity to visit Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, next summer, fostering connections with peers and the Apple team. All winners will receive a one-year membership in the Apple Developer Program, enabling them to submit apps to the App Store and receive support from Apple.

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