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Four Week Challenge: Mobile coding, Ninjas and Pirates

October 22, 2013

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four week challenge 1

Ninjas and pirates tout cakes and biscuits around a packed Media Innovation Studio, drum and bass music reverberates across the entire floor and video images light up every available TV screen.

It’s all part of the School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) Four Week Challenge bringing together first year students from across the School to build a sophisticated mobile phone game, market it online and present it in an academic context. The challenge – which is an academic module – is run as a game, with teams competing against each other not only to build the best game, but to be the most effective team.

Lecturer Nicky Danino runs the challenge with her colleagues Dr Nick Mitchell and Lesley May. Nicky said: “Most of these students have never met before – some of them haven’t done any programming until joining the course foue weeks ago – but they all pull together in teams to make a working android treasure hunt app that’s then tested in the real world to see if it works! It’s an amazing experience. It’s tough but great fun too!

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Students work in teams of six on a series of weekly incremental challenges that each follow themes within computing; giving the opportunity for talented individuals with different strengths a chance to shine. Teams compete with each other and are awarded points every day for a range of activities which are immediately displayed on the Four Week Challenge Leader Board in the foyer of the Computing building at UCLan. Specific activities where points are awarded only if all members of the team make a defined contribution encourage the stronger team-members to support the less experienced.

At the end of four weeks of intensive work the students get the opportunity to present what they have done to staff and students from across the university. This year, students taking part in the challenge created a treasure hunt application to run on a mobile phone. After showcasing their designs in the Media Innovation Studio, they were off to complete the final part of this year’s challenge – looking for treasure on the streets of Preston armed only with a mobile phone and the application they had developed together.

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