Up for the Challenge: Students Tackle Coin-Sorting Problem with Computer Coding

by Monica Spehar

Exploring a future as computer engineers, a few dozen middle schoolers took a tour of our Santa Clara campus this week before tackling a think-on-your-feet coding challenge. And they aced it.

Techbridge students and NVIDIA mentor work on coding challenge.
Techbridge students and NVIDIA mentor work on coding challenge.

The students were from Techbridge, a program based in Oakland, Calif., that expands academic and career options for girls in science, technology and engineering. While here, they also met with more than a dozen of our technical women and engineers, checked out demos and learned about careers in tech.

Eager to engage with these tech-savvy students, our engineers designed a “Counting Coins” challenge that helps students learn to work in teams to create code that solves a problem.

The students, many of whom already have some programming experience, were ready to take on the test. Every successful exercise was met with a loud cheer.

Their goal: Examine and photograph a variety of different-sized coins using an NVIDIA SHIELD tablet.Then use the Java programming language to calculate the radius of the coins, assign each size a value and estimate the total value of the coins pictured. Working with a mentor from NVIDIA, the girls teamed up to figure out how to create the needed code.

What Would You Invent to Make a Difference?

Earlier in the day, our in-house mentors discussed with the Techbridge girls how they got their start as engineers and their favorite things about science and technology. The forum also gave the girls a chance to share how they code games, build circuits and design tools.

One seventh grader shared how she built a radio that could broadcast a sports channel and designed a showerhead timer that cuts off the water flow to conserve water during the current California drought.

Techbridge students discuss coding ideas with NVIDIA mentor.
Techbridge students discuss coding ideas with NVIDIA mentor.

 Techbridge was awarded a grant last year through NVIDIA’s diversity program, which supports U.S. nonprofits offering programs in computer coding, game design and digital literacy.

The program works to improve minority representation in tech by helping fund STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs in K-12 education.

Supporting STEM education is at the heart of NVIDIA’s commitment to attracting, developing and retaining diverse talent.