Education Technology

How to Host Your Own TI Codes Contest

Posted 01/07/2022 by Alison Steele, Senior Marketing Manager

Have you heard about our TI Codes Contest? Each spring, Texas Instruments challenges teams of students from around the U.S. to come up with creative solutions to a proposed theme and submit their ideas. As the groups advance, they ultimately build a functioning model of their concept, which they highlight through a short video. The challenge themes change each year, but the creativity and coding skills these students show with their projects always impress our judges.

As the contest has grown in popularity, we’ve heard about several schools and STEM programs holding their own mini versions of the contest. We love that idea! So, we decided to put together some information to help others. Whether you want to give your students some practice before the real TI Codes Contest in the spring, or you’re just looking for a fun STEM activity, here are some high-level steps for holding a DIY TI Codes Contest.

  1. Choose a challenge theme

    This is the prompt that guides the projects. When choosing a theme, it’s important to provide students enough direction to focus their brainstorming but broad enough to not stifle creativity or end up with similar project ideas. Here is a sample you can use as a guide for writing your own challenge prompt:

    Student teams must imagine and design a solution that automates or optimizes a process or product related to (insert theme here). The end goal is to use coding and TI technology to build a model of the product.

    To help you out, here are some past TI Codes Contest themes:

    • Everyday life
    • Food
    • Living and working in space
    • Health, wellness or medicine

  2. Establish a timeline and logistics

    Our TI Codes Contest typically consists of four phases: propose a project idea, complete the project design packet, build the project and create a video, public voting and winner selection. Each of the first three phases typically lasts one full month, but a more condensed timeline would work when holding your own contest. We recommend skipping the first “propose a project idea” phase and starting off your contest with the project design packet. Download a template of the packet, and customize it for your individual contest.

    You may also want to provide links to additional resources and info about TI technology that would be helpful to students. Here is an example resource guide to use as is or as a start for creating your own. This guide also includes a sample judging scorecard to customize for both the packet and final project evaluation phases.

    Rather than having students create and submit videos, how about holding an in-person final project evaluation instead? You could even go big — consider coordinating a school-wide assembly where the top teams can show off their projects in person, with key members of the community serving as judges. Make it your own!

  3. Don’t forget the fun!

    Prizes are a big draw for getting participation in any contest, so make sure you have prizes that will really entice your students. And remember, prizes don’t have to be tangible items — things like extra credit or a special parking pass are great options that anyone would get excited about.

    You should also consider reaching out to your local TI representative who can help generate ideas, facilitate the contest and maybe even provide some fun prizes. 😊

Stay tuned for more details on the next TI Codes Contest. We’d love to see your own version of the contest, so be sure and tag @TICalculators on social media if you DIY a version with your school, class or club.

About the author: Alison Steele is the Senior Marketing Manager for TI Education Technology in North America. She has been helping #SpreadMathLove with Texas Instruments for seven years and has worked in education her whole career. A proud graduate of The University of Texas and lifetime Longhorn fan, Alison enjoys college football, a good beach and spending time with her family.