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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

How to take the Bebras Computing Challenge this fall by Chris Peterson SM '13

an international introduction to computational thinking

The Bebras Computing Challenge (American homepage, international homepage) is an international challenge that introduces students to computational thinking. Founded in Lithuania in 2004, it has now spread to more than 30 countries and includes hundreds of thousands of student participants, including ~15k in the United States last year.

Bebras USA is led by Eljakim Schrijvers, the lead coach of the Dutch team at the International Olympiad in Informatics, and Rob Kolstad, the former lead coach of the American IOI team. I first heard about Bebras while hanging out with Rob earlier this summer, and learned more from Kim when I saw him at IOI.

One thing I like about Bebras USA is that it has really has taken root in the midwest and mountain states, which have not historically been as well-served by computer science enrichment programs as the coasts. I like Bebras’ focus on accessibility, both in terms of geographic outreach but also its structure of different divisions, beginning from very rudimentary to very advanced. It also provides data to the schools where the challenge is proctored to help them identify aptitude, understand how students are developing, and see where their students can use additional assistance. Plus, Bebras’ mascot is the beaver, just like (and for the same reasons as) ours.

Last week, Daphne from Bebras sent an email blast to the Computer Science Teachers Association, to help let teachers know about the challenge and how they can register their schools for the exam. I’ve reproduced the announcement below. If you’re an American computer science or math teachers, you should consider signing up; if you’re a student or a parent, you could forward this to your math or science teacher and suggest they consider signing up. If you’re not an American any-of-these, you can find your country’s organizational information here.

In 2014, almost a million participants across 34 countries participated in the Bebras Computing Challenge. It’s a free quiz that requires no studying or preparation, and showcases the key computing concepts to participants. This year, it’s available between 9 – 20 November and sports an entirely new set of fascinating challenges.


The Bebras Challenge is a fun, online event that lets participants apply logical and computational thinking to solve 15 different tasks within 45 minutes. It demonstrates how integrated computing concepts are in our daily lives — it might even motivate some students to pursue the field. Each student gets a score and a certificate, which the teacher can download together with an answer sheet for a classroom discussion of the tasks.

Everyone in grades 5-12 can participate, regardless of whether or not they have strong interest or skills in math, science, or computing. There are four different challenges with varied-difficulty and age appropriate tasks to make the challenge a fun experience for everyone. Students can participate on any time in the given two weeks and only need a browser or a computer or tablet with an internet connection. No special setup is required.

It takes less than one minute to sign up as a teacher or find previous Bebras tasks online.

Questions? Please email Daphne: daphne [at] bebraschallenge [dot] org.