We had almost a hundred responses spanning four continents who participated in our online Young Coders Global Hackathon. During the global pandemic, technology showed its prowess to transcend boundaries and unite individuals who displayed their creativity by coding around the topics of the coronavirus.

Catch the action that took place during the two months of intense coding!

YCGH Quote from Founder, Yong Ning

The limits were endless with Python, and submissions were brimming with creativity and potential. Our top 10 young senior coders then proceeded to the semifinals that were hosted LIVE on YouTube, where they had to present their ideas to the audience. Watch the action here.

Screenshot of YCGH Finalists - Senior Category

Our five finalists were neck-to-neck as they coded LIVE in our YouTube finals, which you can view here:

These young coders aged 13 to 18 proved their mettle to be crowned the finalists of our Young Coders Global Hackathon! You can click on their names to find out more about these future leaders in technology.

1st Place: Emily Ong

Age: 18

Photo of Emily, the JC2 student from Dunman High's Robotics Club.
Meet Emily, the JC2 student from Dunman High’s Robotics Club.

Hobbies: I like to do computing or math-related things, and try to play chess and other action games. When inspiration hits me, I also like to solve some competitive programming problems.

How did you start coding? I started coding in secondary school probably through sites such as CodeCombat. From there, I was able to explore more things related to computing.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I heard about the competition from my teacher and decided to join the competition as it was socially meaningful and inspiring.

What have you learned? I have learnt a lot about presenting projects and am more receptive to feedback from other people. I did not manage to have the time to join online meetups, although it would be cool to know more about other people’s projects. Furthermore, I realised how it becomes more purposeful and applicable when we start to integrate technical ideas with real-life scenarios and other fields, such as Economics, in my project.

Future coding aspirations: I would want to learn more about math and machine learning, and perhaps game development.

2nd Place: Demetrios and William
Team Better Program Pending

Ages: 14-15

Photo of Demetrios, a member of Better Program Pending
Meet Demetrios, a member of Better Program Pending

Hobbies: I like to play video games and read.

How did you start coding? I started coding using Scratch 4 years ago.

What have you learned? I have learned a lot from coding as it was an experience to do new things in programming I haven’t done before, and I got to meet many other programmers from around the world. 

Future coding aspirations: Right now, I am working with my friend and former teammate, William, on a discord bot based on our chatbot.

Photo of William, another member of Better Program Pending
Meet William, another member of Better Program Pending

Hobbies: I like to program and play video games. My hobbies include hiking, building models and playing piano and trumpet.

How did you start coding? I started coding when I was 10, when I discovered Scratch, and really enjoyed it. I went to every Scratch club at my school. When I was 12, I started learning my first programming language Javascript.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I was informed by my Coding Lab teacher, and I was very excited to sign up and quickly asked my friend Demetrios if he could too.

What have you learned? I have learned how to better organise my code, and why it is very important to leave comments!

Future coding aspirations: Currently I am working on a bot for the popular platform Discord, which will join any server and manage it, as well as play music and some other cool functions. In the future, I would like to work as a developer for a game company such as Infinity Ward or work for the government on cybersecurity. 

3rd Place: Sriharsha Sikhakollu

Age: 15

Meet Sriharsha, the tenth-grader from Singapore American School
Meet Sriharsha, the tenth-grader from Singapore American School

Hobbies:  I love to play soccer, invest in the stock market, code, and also play video games.

How did you start coding? I actually started to code when I was in 6th grade when my father signed me up for a summer coding program. Of course, it wasn’t a Java or Python course but it was the basics – Scratch. I was quite fascinated with how fun coding is and how simple it can be. Since then, I got started on my coding journey. I slowly progressed from Drag and Drop Programming to more advanced such as Python and some Java.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I was looking for something to do during quarantine as I was extremely bored. That was when coding came into my mind as I was doing some basic coding here and there in my free time. I remembered that I signed up for a class with Coding Lab a few months ago and just looked at their website for any upcoming programs and luckily there was a virtual hackathon happening.  I immediately signed up for it.

I saw the hackathon as a medium to improve my coding knowledge while also creating an application that will help the general public during the global pandemic.

What have you learned? From my YCGH journey, I would say the most important thing that I learned is, of course, more Python but also time management skills. During the phase where we code our own project and the final phase of the hackathon, I wish that I had managed my time over the weekends more efficiently so that I could have finished the project earlier. I was also quite amazed by other coders as all of them had brilliant ideas. Opportunities like the YCGH will allow coders like me to use coding to the best we can.

Future coding aspirations: Something I am interested in is entrepreneurship as well, so if I could do something which involves coding and entrepreneurship, it would be great.

Merit (Most Innovative): Ali Cevat ERÇAL

Age: 18

Meet Ali, the 18-year-old inspired to code by LEGO pieces
Meet Ali, the 18-year-old inspired to code by LEGO pieces

Hobbies: I like playing video games and basketball. In my free time, I usually play computer games but sometimes I read books.

How did you start coding? I started coding when I was 14. It was a LEGO Mindstorms kit. I built a line following a robot by using LEGO pieces.

Why did you join YCGH 2020? My dad found Coding Lab when he was surfing the internet, finding coding courses for me.

What have you learned? In meetups, I gained some friends and learned how to work under a time limit. I also expanded my Python knowledge.

Future coding aspirations: In future, I want to scale up my Hackathon project. I want to AI engineer in the future too.

Merit (Most Promising Young Coder): Kieran Ho

Age: 12

Photo of Kieran, aged 12 and awarded the Most Promising Young Coder
Meet Kieran, aged 12 and awarded the Most Promising Young Coder

Hobbies: My hobbies are coding but sometimes I like to read books. In my free time, I usually read books that I like but sometimes I code.

How did you start coding? I started coding using Scratch when I realised that my friend was coding using that language. Out of curiosity, I decided to try it out too. My friend introduced me to the language, after which I decided to find books about it. In one of the books, there was also a tutorial on Python. I tried it out and found that it was fun – and that was how I started coding in Python. I was Primary 1 at the time, I think. (Been coding for 5 years now!)

Why did you join YCGH 2020? I decided to join the Hackathon after I found out about it through one of my coaches during a Python tuition session. I thought it would be a fun experience for me to try out – but little did I know that I would get this far.

What have you learned? All in all, this Hackathon has been a fruitful experience, albeit with many pitfalls and traps. The many sessions I have had helped me to steer clear of these traps and eventually become better, not only at my code organisation but also helped me improve my ability to solve problems using code. I have learnt more about the value of learning from one another, and as Coach Yong Ning stated: it is not the end result that matters, but the journey. I have met many experienced friends and coaches that have taught me many things, and I will be ever grateful to them for inspiring me.

Future coding aspirations: I am currently working on a program which solves the Travelling Salesman Problem using the Nearest Neighbour algorithm for fun, but I plan to try out other algorithms and time them. In the near future, I hope to make more coronavirus-related programs to help others and eventually perfect my Travelling Salesman Problem program.

In the future, I hope to pursue a coding-related occupation. I hope to learn more languages to expand my abilities more. I also hope to learn more about neural networks with Tensorflow and adapt it into a program in Python, or maybe even train one!

This concludes our Young Coders Global Hackathon 2020. We would like to thank our participants from all over the world, and it’s been a joy getting together and collaborating with Coding Lab Japan. See you next year!

Read about the Junior Category’s Top 7 by clicking here.

(Written by Cheryl Tang)