I have not had time to talk about Google's Highly Open Participation Contest. Luckily, Amy Stephen posted a good article about the contest at Open Source Community which I encourage you to read. In the article, she talks about the positives of this program for both the high school age coders as well as the open source communities involved.
As Amy mentions in her article, Google invited ten Open Source projects, including Apache Software Foundation, Drupal, GNOME, Joomla!, MoinMoin, Mono, Moodle, Plone, Python and SilverStripe to participate. In Google's own words this is what they have to say about their program:
Google is pleased to announce this new effort to get young people involved in open source development. We've teamed up with the open source projects listed here to give student contestants the opportunity to learn more about and contribute to all aspects of open source software development, from writing code and documentation to preparing training materials and conducting user experience research.
If you're a student age 13 or older who has not yet begun university studies, we'd love to see you help out these projects.
Back in the day when I was in high school, I learned how to code in both BASIC and Pascal. While the programming languages have changed in what they teach in the classroom, I would bet one thing hasn't changed. The focus in those classes are mainly how to code in a particular programming language but really don't teach much about software development. The classes often lack focus on the software development process itself and just the simple lessons of how to work with others in software development.
I consider Google's contest an invitation for students to learn how software development works in the real world and a way for them to get involved in open source development. Don't miss out on this opportunity.