RealTime IT News

Google Goes Back to (High) School

Get 'em while they're young.

As part of its continuing efforts to get young people interested and involved in open source software development, Google is launching a contest just for high school and secondary school students.

All you have to be is a student age 13 or older who hasn't started college and you too can take a shot at winning cash prizes from Google.

The Google Highly Open Participation (GHOP) contest offers the prospect of up to $500 in prizes per successful participant in the effort. Students will compete for the loot by completing any number of different tasks including writing code, doing research or just writing documentation.

"There is no maximum number of contestants, but our goal here is the quality of work and not the quantity of students," Leslie Hawthorn, Google Program Manager, said in an email to InternetNews.com. "We're looking forward to seeing the many tasks contributed by the community."

Google has populated GHOP with 10 open source groups including the Apache Software Foundation, Drupal , GNOME, Joomla!, MoinMoin, Mono, Moodle, Plone, Python and SilverStripe. Contestants can choose from a list of tasks submitted by each group.

"We chose projects that had done a great job in the Summer of Code and that we were in active contact with," Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager at Google told InternetNews.com. "Basically, if all goes well, we will want to do this over and over again with more and more students and open source organizations, scaling it much in the same way we have the Summer of Code."

Google's success criterion for the GHOP effort is all about the development of more open source developers.

"The only real criteria we consider are does it create more open source developers?" DiBona said. "Does it create more open source code? Does it support open source infrastructure? If the answer to any of these is yes, then this project will be in good stead."

The contest is now officially open for student entries and all work needs to be completed by February 4, 2008.

The GHOP effort builds off Google's Summer of Code initiative which has matched university students with open source projects since 2005. The 2007 iteration of Summer of Code saw Google accept more than 900 students.

Summer of Code students who completed their tasks earned $4,500 from Google, while each open source organization that sponsors the student received $500 per successful student. Google's total tally in 2007 amounted to more than $4 million for the Summer of Code effort.