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DRAMA! Team competing in annual coding competition submit their program seconds before deadline

The group from Westhill Academy competed in an annual Micro:bit event, but following a series of events led to quite a traumatic experience for the team and their mentor.

03 April 2020 22:16

Destined for decline

The globally renowned programming event is an opportunity for schools around the world to present their most talented computing individuals to compete with each other, creating useful and practical programs, some of which may be developed even further as real-world applications and tools.

Our third-year team consisting of (in alphabetical order)

  • Erin Armishaw
  • Rebecca Duncan
  • Michael Imray

and the help of their senior mentor, Timothy (yours truly), were supposed to have half a year to fully design, develop and integrate their project, but due to a lack of the existence of any the required resources, this period was decreased to just barely a few weeks. Off to an already shaky start, the trio alongside their help from above had very little time to meet their goal.

Working to the bone

Spending up to multiple hours a day, the triad of talent poured their souls into the completion of the project, learning new programming fundamentals as well getting to know one another along the way, however, it wasn’t all fun and games. Time was truly against them, and the group seemed to be creeping ever-closer to the deadline day after day…

Sooner than anyone would have imagined, the dreaded deadline dawned down on the dreary team, at this point utterly exhausted from bug fix after bug fix. Features were still not working, and the due date was near.

It was the day of submission. Friday morning.

The group, alongside their adviser set forth to finish the project. Weeks of effort built up to this very day. Twelve o clock. Not a second later or their creation would be done in vain.

But wait, there's more

Issue number one: Internet

To the trio's complete and utter dismay, the school's network went down, which meant no internet access for anyone. A problem this was, as all their work was online and could only be done with a working connection.

But giving up was not in the nature of our committed crew, a data hotspot was all that was needed to get up and running again. Back to work.

Time was ticking, but features were finally working. All was looking hopeful as final testing was taking place.

Hitting rock bottom

Failed attempt after failed attempt at submitting the form. Details were entered so many times it was already muscle memory. No matter how well the connection was before submission, it seemed to all come crashing down at the least useful time.

Hearts were racing and blood was pumping. A few minutes remained as the clock's hour hand came closer and closer to twelve. Time was tight but our trio was dedicated.

So then the fire alarm went off.

He just collapsed.

Michael, recalling Timothy's reaction the second the alarms started to blare

Although the team would have rather stayed inside and burned if it meant finishing their project, the protocol was unfortunately exactly that. Panicked, the group left the building and outside onto the adjacent field for assembly.

Ten minutes turned to nine, then to eight, the school's population crowded the field as the minutes ticked by.

Determination is an understatement


The trio was on their own, no help left and no guidance to give.


Wait, there's signal here, and everything was done completely online…


Log in. Screenshot every bit of code that can possibly fit onto the screen. Get the document from the cloud. Enter those details we've spend so long memorising from typing them again and again.


The clock strikes twelve

That was it, time's up.

The deadline was reached.

The submission page was now closed.

And they did it. Merely seconds beforehand.

I think- I think it's time for lunch.

Based off A true story.

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