Apple has opened up submissions for the 2024 Swift Student Challenge. As we reported last November, the format of this year’s format is a little different than in the past. Eligible students have from today through February 25, 2024, to submit their app playgrounds on a topic of their choosing.
Apple will choose 350 winners from the entries submitted and name 50 of those Distinguished Winners who will be invited by Apple to visit its Cupertino headquarters. All winners will receive a one-year membership in the Apple Developer Program, a voucher to take an App Development with Swift certification exam, and a special gift.
Two of my kids participated in the Swift Student Challenge in the past. If you know a student who’s interested in learning to code, I know from experience that this is a great way to get them started and excited about the subject.
It’s hard to believe that it has been over nine years since Apple announced the Swift programming language at WWDC. From the day it debuted, one of the pillars of Swift has been Apple’s education efforts, which have included Swift Playgrounds, materials for teachers and students, events, coding centers, and of course, the annual Swift Student Challenge at WWDC. So, with Swift’s 10th anniversary around the corner, it’s not surprising that Apple is updating its Swift Student Challenge program and releasing new resources for educators.
Today, the company announced that the next Swift Student Challenge will begin in February 2024, a break from the past WWDC schedule. The competition will name 350 winners in total, 50 of whom will be named Distinguished Winners whose projects stand out from the other submissions. Distinguished Winners will be invited to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino in the summer to meet with Apple engineers and other winners, and all winners will receive a one-year membership to the Apple Developer Program.
The Swift Student Challenge will run for three weeks in February 2024, and students can sign up to be notified of when the competition will begin here.
Apple is also expanding its Everyone Can Code program with four new projects providing additional resources for students to learn to build apps. The projects, which provide educators with resources to guide students, include the following:
- Design a Simple App: Students can create an app prototype in Keynote to learn the fundamentals of app design, practice rapid prototyping, and collect feedback, following the same steps as professional developers.
- Build with Stacks and Shapes: Students can take the first steps of building an app in Swift Playgrounds and code a self-portrait or a work of art using SwiftUI to learn the fundamentals of user interface design.
- Build Custom Shapes: Students can bring an app interface to the next level by designing a shape, learning how to plot the coordinates, and coding their custom shape using SwiftUI and the About Me sample app within Swift Playgrounds.
- Design an App Icon: Students can learn and apply app design principles to create a unique and memorable app icon that communicates an idea; practice rapid prototyping; collect feedback; and upload the icon to Swift Playgrounds to become part of an app.
The projects can be accessed by educators from the Apple Education Community website.
The expansion of the Swift Student Challenge and other announcements today are great to see. It’s a fantastic way to get students excited about coding, as we’ve seen first-hand based on the growing number of apps we write about at MacStories that were built by former Challenge participants. I’m looking forward to seeing what students come up with this year.
Next week, Apple is introducing a new Today at Apple session for kids who are interested in learning to code: Coding Lab for Kids: Code Your First App. Starting December 5th, the session will walk children 10 and up through building an app with Swift Playgrounds.
According to Apple’s press release:
During the lab, Apple Creative Pros will lead aspiring coders and their guardians in an interactive activity using iPad and Swift Playgrounds…. Working in the About Me playground, participants will use SwiftUI and a new, real-time app preview to customize and bring their app to life with fun fonts, background colors, Memoji, and more.
After its debut, Coding Lab for Kids: Code Your First App will become a regular part of the Today at Apple programming.
As a parent, I’m always glad to see sessions like this added to Today at Apple. The company offers a lot of interesting programs, but having helped my kids find resources to learn to code when they were younger was difficult. Introductory sessions like the one announced today and Apple’s other resources for parents and educators have come a long way in recent years and now enable a wide spectrum of kids who are interested in coding to find the materials to help them get started.
If you want to sign a kid up, you can look for a nearby Apple Store offering the session here.