One of the really interesting events that Microsoft runs is a set of competitions called the Imagine Cup. These competitions are international events that challenge students to create serious and meaningful projects for a chance at prizes and recognition. For many previously competitors the recognition has been more beneficial than the cash prizes. Even for many competitors who did not win prizes the participation in these events has proved beneficial. Because these projects can be significant they often serve as great inclusions in portfolios of work for job applications and applications for advanced educational studies.
Participation can also inspire students who don’t get to the level of a country finals though. They can be great learning experiences. I like this post by a current university CS student who took part in the Imagine Cup while she was a high school student. Turning a Disaster into a Career
Most of the competitors are university students up to and including graduate students. Several teams of high school students have done very well over the last couple of years. In the US high school students have finished as high as second in the US finals in game development events. I fully expect a high school team to win one of these days. Maybe in a game division but maybe in one of the other areas.
This year there is also a quiz event called the Brain Games Challenge:
With our new Brain Games Challenge you don't need code. Just bring your brain:
Every month brings a new brain-melting trivia quiz on Imagine Cup themes! Use search engines to answer tough questions and you could win the monthly cash prize.
Monthly Quiz Prize: $1,000
Sweepstakes Grand Prize: Free trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, to see the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals!