Students, how can Connecticut stop the spread of the coronavirus?

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz poses with staff members during a thank you rally in front of Northbridge Health Care Center in Bridgeport, Conn. May 1, 2020. On Monday, she announced the launch of a challenge for students grades 3 through 12 to come up with apps that could defeat the spread of the coronavirus, improve communities and inform people. The deadline to submit to this challenge is May 29.

HARTFORD — State government officials are challenging students to come up with their own ideas for defeating the spread of the coronavirus.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz announced the launch of the Lt. Governor’s COVID-19 Computing Challenge: A statewide challenge to address a global concern. She was joined by Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw, Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, Motor Vehicles Commissioner Sibongile Magubane and Office of Higher Education Executive Director Tim Larson.

“Due to the novel coronavirus radically disrupting the 2019-20 academic year for the state’s students, this computing challenge provides a valuable resource for educators who are considering ways to keep their students academically engaged in rigorous problem-solving,” Bysiewicz said.

Students, from grades 3 through 12, can work individually or in teams. The ideas they come up with do not need to include functioning apps. The deadline to submit to this challenge is May 29.

“Connecticut students are invited to submit ideas that could be implemented with computer technology like apps, websites or computer programs, in order to defeat the spread of the disease, aid our communities and encourage and inform the general public,” Bysiewicz said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what our students come up with.”

Cardona said the pandemic is presenting challenges unlike anything Connecticut has ever seen.

“The reliance on technology to address a variety of issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is astounding,” he said. “This challenge allows students to continue learning while creating a solution to a real-world problem and making a positive difference in their communities and state.”

Students with a basic understanding of computing technology can imagine themselves creating and implementing technology that will make a difference in their lives, and those of their family members and community members, he said.

The goal is to have students use this period of social distancing to improve their communities.

A complete submission will include demographic information of contributing team member(s), the problem the student or team addresses, the inspiration for the final idea, a description of how the app would work and an optional video.

All submissions will be posted publicly, and all Connecticut students are encouraged to vote for their favorite submissions from June 1 to June 12. Selected participants will be invited to showcase their submission.

Officials said the challenge will allow students to: gain exposure to the uses of computer technology; develop their interest in technology; be creative in using computer technology; learn how to collaborate virtually; and apply computational thinking skills.

The idea for the coding challenge was inspired by the work of the Council on Women and Girls Education and STEAM subcommittee, in partnership with its steering committee community partners.

When he took office, Gov. Ned Lamont formed the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls, a group that provides a state response to issues that impact the lives of women, girls, their families and the state. Bysiewicz chairs the council, and McCaw is the vice chair.

The group meets every other month to plan legislation and review government policies and practices with a goal of ending gender discrimination and supporting the needs of women. Subcommittees include: education, economic opportunity and workforce equity, leadership and health and safety.

The education and STEAM subcommittee, co-chaired by Magubane and Larson, encourages educational advancement for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. One effort the subcommittee was planning was a coding challenge for students.

For more information on the COVID-19 Computing Challenge, visit the Lt. Governor’s Covid-19 Coding Challenge.

Connecticut Media Group