Tech News: Riverside County’s First Annual “Rubber Duck” Computer Competition Features 129 Students from 9 Districts this Saturday

The Debugging and Programming Competition is for Top Honors for Teams & Individuals in all Schools in the County

Students from across Riverside County have been practicing their skills and are ready to code for top honors at the inaugural Riverside County Programming Competition on Saturday, April 6, at Valley View High School. The competition will feature 129 Middle and High school students from 9 Districts from across Riverside County.

Middle and High School students are being introduced to the world of coding – including rubber duck debugging. In software engineering, rubber duck debugging is a method of debugging code. The name is a reference to a story in the book The Pragmatic Programmer in which a programmer would carry around a rubber duck and debug their code by forcing themselves to explain it, line-by-line, to the duck.

When students check-in for either the individual or team competition on Saturday morning, they will be presented with their very own rubber duck to help them tackle the coding challenges. While their duck companion will definitely help, students and coaches are more likely ready for the competition questions through six weeks of preparation including an optional workshop held on March 23 at Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE).


“Since this is our inaugural programming competition, we were unsure what to expect in terms of interest and participation,” explained Dr. Dennis Large, Director of Educational Technology for RCOE. “We are extremely grateful to Cal Poly Pomona and UC Riverside for their expertise and enthusiasm in working with us on the event and for developing the practice and competition problems.”

For the last month and a half, competitors have been working on weekly sets of problems developed by Cal Poly Pomona and UC Riverside as practice for the contest. The problems are presented in an order of ascending difficulty to allow for student success and challenge.

Participants have been using HackerRank, a technology hiring platform that is the standard for assessing developer skills, to work through the questions. By using this specific platform, students who choose to pursue a career in software engineering will be familiar with the interview software.

Middle and high school students will compete in their respective age divisions in either individual or team categories. Teams may consist of two, three or four students. Districts participating in the inaugural competition include Corona-Norco, Desert Sands, Hemet, Jurupa, Moreno Valley, Palm Springs, Perris Union, Temecula Valley, and Val Verde.

“I’m excited and thrilled for our first-ever programming competition,” commented Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judy White. “The technology industry continues to evolve and our students must have strong computer science skills to be prepared for successful careers.”

Over 30 volunteers will assist on competition day serving as proctors, judges and event staff. Registration starts at 10:30 am and lunch will be served for all participants until 11:30 am. The competition is from 12 to 3 pm with an awards ceremony scheduled for 3:30 pm. The competition and awards ceremony are free and open to the public.

Award medals will be given in both the individual and team competitions to the top three finishers in the middle and high school divisions. All participants receive a competition logo T-shirt designed and printed by Jurupa High School students in teacher Bryan Kendall’s class. In addition, three lucky competitors will win a computer programming starter kit donated by Raspberry Pi as raffle prizes.

“Next year, we have committed to partner with San Bernardino County Office of Education start their own programming competition,” stated Dr. Large. “Our dream is to eventually see students from our county move on to a state competition. With such a strong start this year, that dream will soon be a reality.”

Following the programming competition, RCOE and Riverside Unified School District will be hosting the first-ever Computer Science Community Summit on May 11 from 10 am to 3 pm at the Riverside County Office of Education. The event is free and open to the public and will feature the winners from the 2019 Programming Competition, award-winning computer science education highlights, and workshops for students and families. To register for the event visit,

Press Release Provided By the Riverside County School District