Summer programming contest!

Update 18 August: The contest is now open for entries. As we were a little late getting the form up, we’ve tweaked the rules to allow anyone who is 18 or under on 4 August (rather than on the date of submission) to enter.

At Games Britannia in Sheffield today we announced the launch of our first programming contest for children and young people. Eventually, we plan to run contests of this sort on a weekly basis, but this one will run for eight weeks, to coincide with the school summer holidays in the northern hemisphere.

Quick summary:

  • Two age categories, 13 and under, and 14 to 18.
  • A $1,000 first prize and five $200 runner-up prizes in each category.
  • The aim is simple: we want you to impress the judges with a piece of software you’ve written for the Raspberry Pi.
If you don’t already have a Raspberry Pi, you can still enter – just use one of the publicly available emulator platforms. (More details on all of this in a later post!)

Detailed rules:


The Sponsor is The Raspberry Pi Foundation, Mitchell Wood House, Caldecote, CB23 7NU, UK.


The 2012 Raspberry Pi Foundation Summer Programming Contest begins 7 July 2012 at 9:00:00 a.m. British Summer Time and ends 1 September 2012, 9:00:00 a.m. British Summer Time. By submitting an Entry, each Entrant (or, where appropriate, the Entrant’s parent or legal guardian) agrees to the Official Rules presented here, and warrants that his or her Entry complies with all requirements set out in the Official Rules. This is a skill-based contest and chance plays no part in the determination of winners.


The Contest is open only to individuals who are 18 years of age or under on 4 August 2012, and who are in full-time education on that date. Employees of the Sponsor and its distributors, and their immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they live) or persons living in the same households of such employees, whether or not related, are not eligible. CONTEST IS VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.


The aim of the contest is simply to produce a software Application, which runs on the Raspberry Pi computer and which impresses the Judges. Each Entry consists of an Entry Form and an archive file containing all source code, binaries and data for the Application. To enter, visit on or after 4 August 2012; complete an Entry Form with the required information and submit along with your archive file.

The Categories for Entrants are: (1) age 13 and under, and (2) age 14 to 18. Entrants must specify a Category, and meet the age requirements for that Category on the date of entry. There is no limit on the number of Entries per Entrant.

The Entry, in its entirety, must be a work of original material produced by the Entrant, and must not infringe on the copyrights, trademarks, moral rights, or intellectual property rights of any person or entity.


The Winner in each Category will each receive US$1,000. Up to five Runners Up in each Category will each receive US$200. The Judges will select Winners and Runners Up from the Entrants at their own discretion; the decisions of the Judges are final and binding with respect to all matters relating to the Contest

The Sponsor reserves the right to take such steps as it deems necessary to verify the validity and originality of any Entry and/or Entrant (including an Entrant’s age, identity, address and authorship of the Entry), and to disqualify any Entrant who submits an Entry that is not in accordance with these Official Rules.


By entering the Contest, all Entrants grant an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide non-exclusive licence to the Sponsor, to reproduce, distribute, and display their Entry.


By entering this Contest, the Entrant (or, where appropriate, the Entrant’s parent or legal guardian) agrees to release, discharge, and hold harmless the Sponsor and its partners, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising agencies, agents and their employees, officers, directors, and representatives from any claims, losses, and damages arising out of their participation in this Contest.


This Contest shall be subject to and governed by the laws of England and Wales.

If for any reason the Contest is not capable of running as planned for any cause beyond the control of Sponsor, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, or suspend the Contest. The Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to amend the Official Rules at any time during the Contest.


123456789 avatar

I am 17 but already finished with school.
Can I participate?

liz avatar

Yes; it’s open to anyone under 18.

Dio avatar


The Contest is open only to individuals who are 18 years of age or under on the date of entry, and who are in full-time education on that date.”

I would have deduced from this rule that although you meet the criteria of being under 19 you would not be eligible as you say are not in full time education. But then I don’t know how rigid these rules are?

liz avatar

We’re actually discussing this at the moment and whether or not we should change it – it’s to do with how we prove a kid is the age he or she says they are. A letter identifying them from a school we can authenticate is a good way to do that; I know I could doctor a scan of a passport in Photoshop, and I’m sure plenty of others out there could too. As I say, it’s under discussion (and apologies for getting it wrong earlier).

Ben avatar

Wouldn’t the money be better spent on developing a model C with more RAM or something?

JamesH avatar

No. Please read up on why the Raspberry Pi was developed in the first place.

Simon Vass avatar

and clearly the next model will be the Master 128. Sheesh ;-)

Ryan Walmsley avatar

You were able to post this while coding tetris 0.o?

liz avatar

He drafted it this morning; we just had to hit “publish”. ;)

noahpocalypse avatar

Alright, let’s do it!

Any language is allowed- so, for example, a kid who did something freaking amazing with Scratch will be selected over someone who did something mildly interesting with C?

Put more concretely, additional knowledge will only go so far to impress; it’s how clever you are with the knowledge that really counts, right?

RMW5 avatar

Why not? If a kid can implement a finite element method for solving elliptic partial differential equations in Scratch, that would impress me ;-)

Drumm avatar

This is what I am hoping for also.

colin avatar

Is there a deadline for entries? This post makes it look like today was both the announcement and the deadline.

ukscone avatar

The 2012 Raspberry Pi Foundation Summer Programming Contest begins 7 July 2012 at 9:00:00 a.m. British Summer Time and ends 1 September 2012, 9:00:00 a.m. British Summer Time.

psergiu avatar

Congratulations for not imposing geographical limits to this contest !

So may times i saw on-line contests that had: “Available only to residents of Posh Country & Their Rich Friends” …

liz avatar

Legally, that was mildly fiddly. Part of the reason we’re doing this over the summer rather than starting at the competition-a-week pace we want to work up to is to help us put in place systems to prove to our satisfaction that the kids entering actually *are* kids, and that they personally are responsible for the code that’s submitted.

Entrants should be aware that we will be expecting to be able to talk (via Skype or in person, via some of the Raspberry Pi volunteers and friends we have around the world) to people who are identifiably children about the code they’ve written!

Emanuil Tolev avatar

Great idea! And congratulations for making it international as well!

I’m not eligible (HE student), but I may help some kids participate, if not this year, then I’ll plan for next year!

Keep it up!

Temia Eszteri avatar

A Raspberry Pi emulator, hm? Sounds like fun – it should be able to keep me distracted while I wait for mine to come to my door as well.

Someone avatar

What type of the software we must write (OS, game, application)? Can we use already created software (Linux based operating systems which are available for download on this site) and modify or extend it? Can I participate if I’m from one of European countries?

Thanks in advance!

Alexander H avatar

I assume there is no limitation on GUIs? I am making a Mini-Application that will allow you to download a minecraft server, run it then upload the changes back. This wont have a GUI, and is mainly centered on normal computers due to memory constaraints but I will release a Pi-Optimised server when it is finished to make it compatible.

chl46r avatar

[quote]By entering the Contest, all Entrants grant an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide non-exclusive license to the Sponsor, to reproduce, distribute, and display their Entry.[/quote]

Hmmm… doesn’t sounds very good. I’m sure about your good will, but why not using an open source license like GPL ? An open source license seems more educative than giving all rights to an entity.

Tomo avatar

Which open-source licence?
I know a lot of people are nervous of the GPL because it does act to limit what you can do with something, and others don’t like BSD-style licences because they don’t require you to publish your changes.
Thus forcing entrants into one particular open-source licence will have side effects that some entrants may not like.
Nothing in the entry requirements above prevents an entrant from using any Open Source licence they wish.

IANAL, but the licence the Foundation has asked for looks like the minimum they need to be able to run the contest – they have to be able to publish the entries, how else can we find out who won and what they did that was so brilliant?

– That said, a little clarification that the entrant will *always* be credited whenever the Foundation does reproduce, distribute and display their entry wouldn’t go amiss.

mcpderez avatar

I don’t think the kids are lawyers either. Perhaps an age-appropriate agreement with plain language explanations kids understand would be more appropriate and educational.

chl46r avatar

Kids are not lawyers, but can’t as well sign contracts (unless UK law says otherwise, here in Italy nobody under 18 years can sign a contract), and a license is a contract (and also I believe the contest application form is a contract), so the parents will be responsible for that, otherwise anything is void. The application form can be used to tell the partecipant the meaning of open source and explain the basic principles of any open source license and the difference of some of the most popular licenses (GPL vs. LGPL vs. Apache vs. BSD, for example) in a language understandable by non-lawyers (not necessarily kids, since it will be addressed to parents). Parents can then choose appropriately.

chl46r avatar

Any OSI-approved license will fit. The partecipant choose the license, if he/she doesn’t know what to choose (or doesn’t care) the organization may propose a default license. The current statement, while theoretically doesn’t impose any limit, may be in contrast with some license.

JamesH avatar

It comes down to this – if you don’t like the rules for any reason, we are not forcing you to enter! I know it sounds harsh, but there are limits to how much time and lawyer money can be spent arguing about licences.

chl46r avatar

Well, this answers the question why it wasn’t choosed an open source license. I can’t partecipate but if I was going to surely now I have changed my mind. Good work, James.

guru avatar

As mentioned, this license is non-exclusive. The original author or their parent/guardian could choose to release their submission under an open-source/copy-left licence if they like.

Golo avatar

Hi! I’m 13, and i’m working on an RGB Led matrix driver software&hardware (GPIO) for Raspberry Pi! :)

Alexander H avatar

Sounds nice. What progress have you done so far, and what are you planning to display on it?

Golo avatar

I want to display BMP images on it…. Now, I’m working on the matrix driver circuit. (I want to use 4017 decade counters…) My display will use pwm to control the RGB leds :)

Oliver avatar

Have you though about using shift registers instead?
You should check out the Peggy Board by Evil Mad Science, they’ve done something similar, so you can draw some inspiration from that. I’m 16, and I’m obsessed with LEDs, so if you want any advice on the theory behind them, holler me.

AndrewS avatar

I’m far too old to enter ;-) but something else that might be worth clarifying: Does the software have to be written within the 8 weeks of the contest, or is the entrant allowed to submit something that they started working on _before_ the contest started?

AndrewS avatar

I’ve just seen a comment on the forums where Liz said:
“There’s no time set on when we expect projects to have been started. If someone’s been working on something cool before the announcement was made, we’re very happy for them to enter it.”

Edek avatar

Cool competition! Just one question: Would it be cheating to develop it on a PC and then get it working on a Raspberry Pi? I find it easier to develop things on a PC instead of on a Raspberry Pi.

Alexander H avatar

No, I am pretty sure you can develop it on a regular computer, it just has to be able to run on a Pi. Developing on the pi with scratch would definitely be a difficult thing to do. :P

JamesH avatar

Scratch does work, and the latest Wheezy with the faster mem libraries and a bit of overclocking, it should be even better.

Trance radio avatar

Why am I too old :( haha. Good luck to the kids :)

kspn avatar

This looks like a great idea (I don’t qualify, being nearly double the entry age), I would love to see what some of the end projects are.
I am interested in finding out some more about the emulators though, that will give me something to do until my PasPi arrives in another few weeks.

Brian avatar

Does the program have to be devolved during the 8 weeks.

Anastasia Pappa avatar

This is a woderful initiative! Is it open to UK residents only?

reiuyi avatar

Very sweet contest, I am looking forward to the final results of all the efforts. Will there one day be a centralized place I can find all raspi projects, or will they remain scattered on blogs over the world?

I hope it won’t be too difficult to authenticate age. If you can write code, you’re more than capable of opening photoshop/gimp and copy-pasting some numbers!

Simon avatar

It’s a programming contest, so if I were to make a game, I would do all the programing.
But is someone else allowed to make the art and textures for it? It’s not programing. And I hope I’m allowed to use librarys, like libSDL.

liz avatar

Yes, that’d be fine.

Ian avatar

“The Entry, in its entirety, must be a work of original material produced by the Entrant…”

So first thing you have to do is invent the universe. Seriously, you might want to clarify what is allowable in terms of using OP’s libraries, core languages, etc.

Jeff avatar

Rather ageist, don’t you think. At least open up a seperate category for adults. As it is, the people who actually bought the Pi with their own cash can’t be rewarded for making stuff for it.

liz avatar

You’re joking, right? <- a clue. And follow the link to the BBC news story in the article. (Do you get upset that you can't compete in school egg and spoon races too?)

Andy avatar

Daughter’s school sports day, parents-only egg & spoon race, tripped over, broke tooth.
Keep away from egg & spoon races

guru avatar

There are schemes out there to reward adults with cash for completing programming challenges.

It’s called ‘a job’.

Chris avatar

T’Interweb is full of trolls, making stupid, mischievous or malicious posts. Normally I try not to feed trolls (respond to them) but I have to agree with the Tweet, you have behaved like a twonk. Want a prize for programming? Get a job as a programmer. Want to encourage young people to be interested in understanding and creating computer code? Support efforts like this competition.

Billy Ebullient avatar

I agree. I recently entered my nephew for a “Bonny Baby” competition in the local newspaper but they rejected it. When I asked why, they pointed out that he was 36 years old, plug ugly and that the “nappies” were clearly Tena Pants. How dare they! And this complete swizz of a “competition” is no better.

Andrew avatar

Panic not, there are other competitions which are open to hobbyists getting into computers.

texy avatar

Its a compo run by ‘Games Britannia’, Sheffield (an assumption, that’s Sheffield, England), sponsered by a British charity, for a British designed product…………with a prize fund in $ ????
What the ?

liz avatar

It’s not run by Games Britannia. Games Britannia is where we happened to be when we announced the competition. The competition is run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and the prize fund is in US$ because this is a worldwide competition and it’s a much more universal currency than the good old pound, love it as we might. (I challenge you to ask your Brazilian man on the street what “£” means. You may get some interesting answers.)

texy avatar

Fair enough! But then the Brazilian man on the street will never know what a £ is if we only push the $ ;-)

John Foggitt avatar

The competition rules state that contestants must be 18 years of age or under – but they don’t state what number base they’re using. I’m under 18 when counting in base 60 – can I enter ? ;)

liz avatar

We’re using decimal. (A grave shame. I much prefer to disclose my own age in hex; it more accurately reflects the age I *feel*.)

Zach avatar

Is there anyway I could enter with a program in objective c? Anyway I could emulate raspberry pi on mac? What kind of programms are you looking for? Would a mathematical right angled triangle solvers using complicated algorithms using trigonometry in c beat a simple but fun game in scratch. You could use the game more and is more fun but the programming in c and the algorithms are much more complicated. Scratch is easy.

steve avatar

To reiterate for the visually challenged …

By entering the Contest, all Entrants grant an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide non-exclusive licence to the Sponsor, to reproduce, distribute, and display their Entry.”

steve avatar

To a finer point … ***”all Entrants”*** … “irrevocable” … not just the winner.

steve avatar

Before comments come back, my point being, lets say “the runner up”‘s idea is also published out in the media and BigCorp Inc want to buy the rights for the “runner up”‘s program / idea for $10 million dollars, who receives the $10 million…? Should a “Just sayin’…” come now? :)

Matt avatar

Hello, when you say “a piece of software” do you mean we need to code something in a high level language, or scripting language, such as Python or C, or can we code something low level, such as Assembly for the ARM?


liz avatar

Either a high-level or low-level language will be fine. (Although you may get smart points for using assembly language!)

Matt avatar

Ok, thank you for the reply :)

Akshay avatar

Good Luck Coding in Assembly!

Katacarbix avatar

Is there a list of available categories? Is there an estimated average lines of code?

harvey avatar

i am 12, and i have a few questions to ask, can it be an .exe file? and is it too late too enter?if not how do i enter? thnx for reading

Katacarbix avatar

EXE files are native to DOS-based machines. The Raspberry Pi computer is a Linux box, so you might want to stick with a C-based language, Python, or Scratch.

It certainly is not too late to enter. You program it, then on August 4th, you submit it along with any source files you’ve used on a form that’ll be on this website on that date.

Harvey avatar

ok, its just im better at DOS based computers, will there be another one of these competitions? maybe next year?

Joshun avatar

What do you mean? Programming languages stay the same, regardless of what operating system you use. You probably want to program in C, which comes installed with the build-essential package.

capt jack harkness avatar

Im sure many people saw the Sept date and went “I still dont have mine”.
So the emulator part is brilliant.

The only thing that worries me is competitive parents.
Ask any teacher how often student assignments they do at home are of muuuuuuch better quality than what they do at school because mommy or daddy do most of the work.

Im happy that the educational components are starting to appear.
More than the cheap hardware, this is what attracts me to this project.

Im looking forward to seeing how programming is going to be introduced to kids who have no knowledge and whose parents dont have any either.
Most of us who come here are more knowledgeable about these things than the average Joe.

liz avatar

We’ll be interviewing the finalists about their methods (in person or on Skype); that – hopefully – should reveal whether they or Mum and Dad did the work!

Bradley Pollard avatar

Oh no that means I actually have to remember what I did at the beginning of my now 1500 line project! :S ;)

Joseph Durrant avatar

I was going to create something with a friend, because we are both embarking on programming courses at college in September, but then I realised it’s indivuduals only :(

Ben J. avatar

I’m 14 and I think I’m going to enter a program that calculates a few diffrent number sequences (Like Pi!). I’m excited to see more contests in the future.

Matt avatar

One more question, which is probably stupid, but, may we interact with other hardware, or is this strictly software based. For example, if I wanted to move a camera, or robot, through the Pi, would it be allowed?

liz avatar

No; we’re looking for pure software applications for this particular competition. We’ll be running hardware contests as well later on but we’re sticking to software for this first one, while we iron out the bugs in running such a contest, because they’re easier for us to judge without requiring special equipment.

Robert Nash avatar

When it says everything must be original work, does that mean that you aren’t allowed to import modules in python

juanRIOT avatar

Imagine what new and wild ideas this will render. Not to mention all that free software just for Raspi!
Bragging rights and fame to the best piece by a software developer.

Willrandship avatar

So, a quick clarification: I’m going into University this fall, which will be full-time education. I’m 18, and can easily prove it, so I’m elegible to enter, right?

liz avatar

Yup. :)

Matt avatar

Does code *have* to be submitted on August 4th, or is their a final date after that?

Thanks :-)


Is ths contest open to residents of Quebec in Canada?

Alexander Harkness avatar

Yes, it is open to everybody around the world, as long as you are under 18.

Me avatar

Can I use DOS laguages like Qbasic, and then just run them in DOSBox?

Oliver Chappell avatar

My kids have both been working furiously to enter the comp, we go on holiday in a few days so they want to enter their attempts asap. We cant find an entry form still. Any idea when it will be available or what exact url is if its online already?

Chris avatar

Hello, it’s now “on or after 4th Aug 2012” … any idea when the entry form will be available?



Hugo Abreu avatar

When will we have access to the access form? I would like to submit the form the earlier I can.


Michael Pearce avatar

Where is the entry forms? it is past 4/08/12 and there are no forms from that link?

rayditya avatar

where i can find the form? any link or clue?


liz avatar

It’ll be coming over this weekend – sorry about the delay. We were aiming to get it on the front page at the start of this week, but things have been a bit fragmented because we’ve been dealing with some family stuff.

Adam F avatar

Can the application be in any language? (specifically Python)

liz avatar


Yash avatar

I’m sad that I just found out about this…..does anyone think it is too late to make a program and enter?

liz avatar

Not at all; you’ve got a couple of weeks. Get cracking!

Zach avatar

Who won? What did they make? I am asking this to know what they’re looking for at the soon to be open Manchester university raspberry pi competition :D

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