Blended Learning, Cost of Education, Domestic, International, K-12, Math, Required, Science, Startups, Technology, Universities & Colleges, Videos - Written by on Monday, June 11, 2012 6:00 - 1 Comment

Udacity Challenges High School Students To Take Free, Online Summer Courses

Summer in the Bronx
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Chris Goldberg via Compfight

By WiredAcademic Staff

Palo Alto-based startup Udacity is promoting its free online courses to high schoolers this summer, challenging them to recruit friends and family to take free, online, college-level Udacity classes this summer.

Udacity is offering an all-expense paid visit to Silicon Valley, Stanford University and the self-driving car lab at Standford to five students who take the most courses and recruit the greatest number of other learners. Professor Sebastian Thrun, formerly on faculty at Stanford and now head of Udacity, will host the day’s events for the students.

“We hope to empower hundreds of thousands of students to become education leaders in their communities,” says Udacity Challenge Director Jason Soll, in a statement. “We believe that everyone deserves to have a fun, challenging, free education in science and technology. It’s time for a revolution in education, and we believe it should be led by the students themselves.”

The move by Udacity aims to expand the number of users for its site, which already has 100,000 active students in 190 countries. More than that, however, this contest could help promote its course as a new kind of Advanced Placement credential for high school students, looking to gain an edge in the college admissions process. The high school market represents a key growth area for all of the Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, programs such as Stanford’s Coursera, edX from MIT and Harvard.

“Less than 5% of our present students are high school students. But they do exist,” Sebastian Thrun, wrote to WiredAcademic in response to an email question. “Two of our new classes - into to statistics and intro to physics - are much easier to digest by high school students than most of the classes we have been offering so far.”

In the frequently asked questions section on Udacity’s web site (and printed below), organizers say: “What you learn might come handy in college; in fact it may even help you to get into the college of your choice.”

Interested students can register at at Courses includes how to program self-driving cars, build search engines like Google, introductory physics and statistics. The competition starts June 25 and ends on Aug. 26.

Staff at Udacity tell WiredAcademic that it aims to bring international students to campus if they place among the top five recruiters. If Visa or other issues prevent them from making the trip, Udacity will award them a prize of comparable value to airfare and lodging. The staff member says Udacity believes “exposing high schoolers to great STEM education can help create the much-needed surge in computer scientists and engineers that many societies currently lack to remain competitive in the global economy.” Udacity also believes providing intellectual stimulation during the summer helps high school students keep moving forward with important subject matter.

The first Udacity course in artificial Intelligence drew 160,000 students from more than 190 countries. The company says its mission is for higher education to be a basic human right and available to everyone. The summer challenge is sponsored by Battelle Memorial Institute and the Conrad Foundation.

 Here’s a video from Udacity about the challenge and other FAQ below:

Why do we do this competition?

To democratize education. We firmly believe education is a basic human right, and it should be available for free. We’d like to share our excitement with as many people as possible, and help them gain skills they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get.

How to I join a team?

You must get a link from one of the team leaders or a member of the team.

I’m a high school student. What’s in it for me?

Mostly: learn something fascinating. No matter what class you take, you are poised to learn something new, to meet interesting new people online, and to build the coolest projects. What you learn might come handy in college; in fact it may even help you to get into the college of your choice.

I’m not a high school student. What’s in it for me?

Mostly the same thing: learning the coolest skills and building the coolest projects this summer. Many online learners are working professionals, and they, too, benefit from learning something new.

What courses are included in the score?

Right now, we can only handle courses on While there are many other exciting online courses on the Web, we don’t have the technology to integrate their final certificates into our system. But Udacity offers a range of exciting courses, including introductory courses to statistics, physics, and computer science.

What happens if my team members start a course unit but don’t finish by the deadline?

In this case the unit will not count. Students have to finish each unit completely to get points.

Do I really need two team leaders?

No! (Sorry for earlier confusion.) You can create a team without entering a co-leader.

Do team leaders really need to be from the same high school?

Yes. You and your fellow classmate get to become the community champions of free online education.


1 Comment

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Aug 7, 2012 14:54

I’m the team leader of one of those high school teams and we’re also now looking for new smart and motivated members who want to learn some really cool stuff! Team Jusix is momently the 19th biggest team worldwide and we have a great teamspirit! Feel free to join by this link:
Notice: You don’t have to be in High School to join. Members can be off all ages! For more information about Team Jusix visit:
Have a nice time!

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