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Syrian Olympiad for Informatics

The Syrian Computer Society organizes a local version of International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) competition using Scratch.

This paper, entitled "Taking Kids into Programming (Contests) with Scratch," reports on the progress the Syrian Computer Society has made over the last five years since starting to use Scratch in their annual Syrian Olympiad in Informatics (SOI) contests. The program breaks students into 3 divisions by age ( <12, <15, and <20) and the winning team of the advanced group moves on to represent Syria at the International Olympiad in Informatics competition (IOI) held each year.

Abstract. Since launching the Syrian Olympiad in Informatics (SOI) five years ago, encouraging children to participate in the contest has been a challenging task, a common problem in many places around the world. Students, and many educators as well, see programming as a tough subject to learn. In addition the style of the IOI tasks is generally considered unattractive. We started overcoming those obstacles through using Scratch, a graphical programming language developed at the MIT Media Lab. Scratch allows kids to start learning programming concentrating on the concepts rather that the syntax, while providing them with the ability to construct diverse projects that are attractive and meaningful to them. Scratch also allows examining children's programming skills against interesting tasks, and gives them the opportunity to move more smoothly into learning a traditional language like C++ and other computer science topics.