2010 Applications Olympiad Surprise

Imagine the surprise when you are expecting 500 participants and more than 6 000 register. 

This is what happened to the organizers of the 2010 Computer Applications Olympiad.

Computer Programming is offered at very few schools, but a new subject Computer Applications Technology (CAT) is offered at more and more schools – including disadvantaged schools. CAT involves the use of common application tools such as Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Databases. A large and representative group of learners is taking this subject.

The Western Cape, for example, has 650 matriculants taking IT, but 10 000 studying CAT.

To give CAT learners and others with computer experience an opportunity to show their skills, the Computer Olympiad Trust, which for years has organized the Programming Olympiad, ran a pilot Applications Olympiad. “We needed to get experience with this type of Olympiad “,explained Peter Waker, Manager of the Computer Olympiad. “It was the end of the year and during a teachers’ strike. We were not expecting more than 500 participants.”

However, news spreads fast among the users of e-mail, Facebook, Blogs and Twitter. Instead of 500 no less than 6 318 learners registered. That was not the only surprise. Some very good entries came from schools that do not even offer the subjects IT or CAT.

“Karla Smit from grade 7 at Koos Sadie Primary School in Goodwood nearly made it into the finals” comments Waker, “and this is using a paper that was regarded as too difficult by many teachers.”

Unlike the Programming Olympiad around half of the participants were girls and four out of the eleven finalists are female – two from the same school: La Rochelle in Paarl.

The eleven top scoring learners have been invited to the Finals. They are (in alphabetical order by surname):

Surname Name Grade School School Town Province
Asmal Taariq 12 Tshwane Muslim School Pretoria GT
Denny Helen 11 La Rochelle Girls’ High Paarl WC
Edelberg Sarah 11 Herzlia High Cape Town WC
Kotze Darmo 12 Hermanus High Hermanus WC
le Roux Adriëtte 12 La Rochelle Girls’ High Paarl WC
Mönnig Conrad 12 Penryn College Nelspruit MP
Nortier Daantjie 12 Durbanville High Cape Town WC
Ontong Steven 12 Hottentots-Holland High Somerset West WC
Petersen Josh 12 Pinelands High Cape Town WC
Rosenkrantz Melodé 12 Linkside High Port Elizabeth EC
Schmidt le Roux 12 Parys High Parys FS

Will there be a Computer Applications Olympiad in 2011?

“You can bet on it” states Waker. “We are anticipating more than 10 000 entries this time and several potential sponsors have come forward.”