The future can be a scary thing, but when students are in a safe, encouraging environment and are able to explore the possibilities through a competition like the Great Computer Challenge, it can be invigorating.


The Great Computer Challenge (GCC) is a joint project of WHRO, the Consortium for Interactive Instruction (C.I.I.) and Old Dominion University (ODU) that provides an opportunity to recognize student achievement, foster teamwork and introduce students to a college environment.


The GCC is celebrating 31 years in 2016 and we are elated to have been acknowledged by The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) with their 2015 Community Engagement Award.


Thirty-one years is quite a long time and we’re back at it on March 5 at Old Dominion University’s Webb Centerwhen over 100 teams of middle and high school students from all over Hampton Roads willcompete in the following “senior division” categories:Graphic Design, Desktop Publishing, Music Composition, Desktop Presentations, Web Design, Integrated Applications, Scientific/Non-Business Programming, Visual Programming, CAD, JAVA Programming, and Video Editing.


Working together, the teamswill do their best within the timeframe given to them. After the judging comes the exciting award ceremony where parents are also invited to join the celebration.


Now that you know a little bit more about the day, why do you think this competition is important to the students and teachers, and how is it preparing students for their future?  We gathered Isle of Wight County Schools (IWCS) students and coaches as well as the ODU Coordinator, Doug Streit, to meet with Bob Batcher of Norfolk Perspectives to share their experiences with the Great Computer Challenge and to help answer these questions. They expressed the creativity, the collaboration and excitement of the day.   


In 2015, these IWCS participants competed in Graphic Design and Web Design. For Graphic Design, the teams were asked to pick 4 out of 5 problems to complete within 3 hours. Kirk Lindsay of Smithfield High School actually worked solo to design an advertisement for Stop the Texts Stop the Wrecks Campaign incorporating information from the website ( His solution is picturedbelow.


Kayla Segner, Gabrielle Guill and Allie Meade of Smithfield High School competed in the Web Design category. They were asked to create a one page website for a school science or talent show. There was a long list of criteria for them to follow, but just a couple of the guidelines included: basic navigation with anchor links to each content section, no inline style tags - a separate CSS file must be used, and must use proper and semantic HTML tags.


As you can see, these are real world problems, designed to prepare them their future jobs while also incorporating 21st century skills such as collaboration, creative thinking, and technology literacy, to name a few. You can check out the interview of the IWCS participants and the ODU Coordinator with Bob Batcher of Norfolk Perspectives here.


If you are wondering how you can get involved in such an amazing event, it’s not too late to register or volunteer for the 31st Annual Junior Competition for elementary school students on May 14.




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