Why Computational Thinking and Bebras?
Bebras is an international initiative whose goal is to promote Informatics and Computational Thinking among teachers and students of all ages.
Acknowledging the call made by our honourable Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore has embarked on its truly inspiring mission to become the first Smart Nation in the world. Enrichment classes organized by the Ministry of Education like ‘Code for Fun’ are already onboard in about 107 schools last year where children learn to program in a fun way using block programming. With MOE’s recent efforts on implementing a new GCE O level computing curriculum, we are faced with the crucial challenge to develop our children’s Computational Thinking skills in addition to teaching programming competencies. Our Foreign Minister and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Programme office (SNPO), Vivian Balakrishnan describes the programme’s vision as the one where citizens are active co-creators and problem-solvers, rather than passively waiting on the Government to solve every real-life problem. An initiative like Bebras has immense potential in improving our nations’ capability in achieving this overarching goal. Besides promoting computer literacy and Information Technology skills, the true purpose of Computational Thinking is to help everyone learn and appreciate the world around us, let alone our own thought processes to solve everyday problems, by acknowledging and applying the power of computers.
The Bebras Challenge is a contest made of a set of short questions, which are known as “Bebras tasks”. These tasks can be answered without prior knowledge about Informatics, but are clearly related to Informatics concepts. To solve those tasks, students are required to think in and about information, discrete structures, computation, data processing, but they also must use algorithmic concepts. Each Bebras task can both demonstrate an aspect of Informatics and test the talent of the participant, regarding Informatics.
Bebras Challenge is organized in over 40 countries with over 1 000 000 student participants. Click HERE to see the countries.
Bebras is a collective effort of many countries and Bebras Singapore is privileged to be part of the Bebras community.
Computer science is a very international discipline, and Bebras embodies this principle outstandingly!
The idea of Bebras was born in Lithuania, by Prof. Valentina Dagiene from University of Vilnius. Bebras is the Lithuanian word for “beaver”. The thought rushed into head during the travel around Finland in 2003 and discussions about how we could attract pupils to learn informatics. The activity of beavers on strands was so noticeable, that it suggested the symbol of the challenge. Beavers look like persistent stickers who endeavour for perfection in their field of activities and beaver away to reach the target. Their everyday job seems to be a trial: the one who pulls down more trees will stem more streams. Therefore, our competition was named after the hard-working, intelligent, and lively beaver.
The first Bebras challenge was organised in Lithuania in 2004. The Bebras challenge has quickly spread across the world and 2012 more than 500 000 students participated. Bebras is the non-school activity in Informatics education with the largest audience.
One of Valentina Dagiene’s goals was to establish Bebras as an international initiative on Informatics at schools. Since its beginnings, several European countries have joined Bebras: Estonia, Germany, The Netherlands, and Poland were the firsts to join in 2006. In 2007, Austria, Latvia, and Slovakia organised their first Bebras challenges, while Czech Republic and Ukraine started their challenges in 2008. In 2009, Italy joined Bebras, and 2010 saw first Bebras challenges in Finland and Switzerland. In 2011, France, Hungary, and Slovenia jumped in, and Japan saw the first non-European Bebras challenge; also trial challenges were run in Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Israel, and Spain. In 2012 more countries joined Bebras community: Bulgaria, Sweden, and Taiwan.
The First Bebras Challenge
The history of Bebras challenge began on September 25, 2004, in Lithuania, when experimental trial, in which 779 school students participated, was held. Its aim was to check selected technologies of the challenge and to evaluate the level of complexity of the presented problems. After a month, on October 21, the first Lithuanian Bebras challenge took place. As many as 3470 pupils from 146 schools participated.
During the challenge, each participant has 45 minutes to solve 18 problems of various levels of complexity: 6 problems for 3 points, 6 – for 4 points, and 6 – for 5 points. Correct answer adds as many points as indicated to the problem, incorrect one – minuses 25% of the indicated points (i.e. – 0,75, – 1, and – 1,25 point, respectively), unanswered problems – 0 points. To avoid negative results, each participant must start having the amount of points equal to the total number of the problems (e.g. 18 points in the Bebras-2004).
Each group was given two hours to perform the challenge, collect the results, and send them to the organisers. Preliminary results were calculated and announced the next day. All participants of the challenge, as well as local organisers, received certificates of thanks from Bebras Organizing Committee. Winners of every age group, as well as the other prize winners of each class, were awarded with Bebras diplomas and valuable prizes established by sponsors.
2016 was the first year where Bebras has been introduced to a larger community in Singapore. We were very excited about the positive feedback we have received from both students and teachers, so decided to provide you with an entirely new challenge each year!
Excel League Private Limited has been organising the Singapore and Asian Schools’ Math Olympiad (SASMO) for 10 years.
We have restructured our organization to align our resources to serve our customers and partners better.
Singapore International Math Contests Centre (SIMCC) is a subsidiary of Excel League Private Limited that manages and runs all our contests and training. SIMCC is one of the largest math contests organizers in Singapore and Asia. We are committed to popularizing mathematics education through thinking games and competitions, and allowing students to interact, cooperate and build lasting bonds of friendship that transcend borders. SIMCC organizes:
- SASMO – Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiad
- SIMOC – Singapore International Math Olympiad Challenge
- SMKC – Singapore Math Kangaroo Contest
- American Mathematics Olympiad (AMO) in the ASEAN region and Hong Kong
More information about SIMCC on https://simcc.org/
SIMCC would like to invite you to join its new Computational Thinking Competition: Bebras Singapore.
We are excited again to help teachers in delivering engaging Digital Technologies Education in the classroom.
The Bebras Challenge is running by using automatic challenge management systems. Data collection usually is integrated into these systems.
Many data can be collected during the contest: starting from simple counting participant’s age, gender and going to more complex investigation about tasks solving process, what tasks they chose more, how much time spend for solving them, etc.
The table below shows the number of participants in Bebras 2015.
More information on Bebras Challenge Statistics on Bebras.Org
Bebras Challenge provides a lot of data for making inquiries on how students accept Informatics concepts, how they develop computational and algorithmic thinking, what type of tasks help attract them and motivate for further involvement, etc.
Some countries started to develop research papers year by year. Other countries have published overviews of tasks with detailed explanations how to solve them and what Informatics concepts are behind.
Published articles can be found HERE