Today marks the launch of the third Google Code-in, an international contest introducing 13-17 year old pre-university students to the world of open source software development. The goal of the contest is to give students the opportunity to explore the many types of projects and tasks involved in open source software development. Globally, open source software development is becoming a major factor in all industries from governments, healthcare, and relief efforts to gaming and large tech companies.

When you hear the term “open source” do you ask yourself:

  • What exactly is open source?  
  • How can I get involved in open source software development if I’m just starting to learn how to code?
  • What types of work do open source projects do?  
  • I’d like to work on open source but I’m not really a coder, what else can I do?
  • I’ve never worked on a global project using IRC and chat groups: can someone help me?

If you’ve wondered about any of these questions and are a pre-university student (age 13-17) then you should join in on the fun with the Google Code-in contest starting November 26, 2012.

From late November to mid January, students will be able to work with 10 open source projects on a variety of tasks. These projects have all successfully served as mentoring organizations working with university students in our Google Summer of Code program.

The types of tasks students will be working on will fall into the following categories:

  1. Code: Tasks related to writing or refactoring code
  2. Documentation/Training: Tasks related to creating/editing documents and helping others learn more
  3. Outreach/research: Tasks related to community management, outreach/marketing, or studying problems and recommending solutions
  4. Quality Assurance: Tasks related to testing and ensuring code is of high quality
  5. User Interface: Tasks related to user experience research or user interface design and interaction

Over the last two years we have had 904 students compete in the contest from 65 countries. This past January we announced the 10 Grand Prize Winners for the 2011 Google Code-in. In June, we flew the winners and a parent/legal guardian to Google’s Mountain View, CA headquarters for a 5 day/4 night trip complete with an awards ceremony, talks with Google engineers, Google campus tour, and a full day of fun in San Francisco.

Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Google Code-in site for more details on how to sign up and participate. Please help us spread the word to your friends around the globe. If you are a teacher that would like to encourage your students to participate, please send an email to our team at ospoteam@gmail.com. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Stay tuned to the contest site and subscribe to our mailing list for more updates on the contest. We will announce the 10 open source organizations that will be participating in the contest on November 12. The Google Code-in contest starts on November 26, 2012, and we look forward to welcoming hundreds of students from around the world into the open source family.

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs