This weekend several of our team members volunteered at the South LA Hustle n’ Code Hackathon. The aim of the event is to empower children by teaching them about new technologies and getting them involved in their communities. In teams of 5-8, children from the ages of 8 to 17 find an idea for an app to improve a certain aspect of their community. They then develop, code and pitch the app to a jury. Our kids, The Hackerbots – Club 101, came in third place out of 45+ teams! Here is a timeline of the day:
10 am – The Swenson He volunteers arrive at the Hackathon site. Marco (Software Engineer) and Marine (Marketing and Business Development Assistant) are assigned Team 44.
10:30 am – The kids and our volunteers get to know each other. Angie, Aniya, Brandon, David, Jason, Jose, Josue and Justin brainstorm for a team name. The Hackerbots – Club 101 team is born!
11 am – We divide into two groups and brainstorm ideas. The kids come up with several extremely interesting ideas. We narrow them down to 4 and vote. The carpooling app is the most popular by far! We then create the storyboard for the app.
12:30 pm – After the lunch break, Marco introduces the kids to MIT App Inventor. Several students already have experience coding and nail the introductory exercise!
1 pm – The kids select and code several of the app screens using MIT App Inventor. They also come up with a name for the app: Schoop!
3:30 pm – Josue volunteers to pitch the app to the judges. He and Marine go over the pitch deck. After a practice run with Marco, Josue is ready!
4 pm – The moment of truth. Josue successfully pitches the app to a judge: 30 minutes later we are told we are in the top 10!
4:45 pm – Josue now pitches the app to a gym full of people!
5-6 pm – The other top 10 teams pitch their ideas. Several very interesting concepts are introduced to the jury: apps to help the homeless, reduce racism, help people connect through events, etc. The pressure rises!
6pm – The Hackerbots – Club 101 and their app Schoop come in 3rd! The kids each receive a tablet and several other goodies! After an intense day, they can finally relax and be proud of their work. We were certainly proud of them!
For more information about Urban TXT – Teens Exploring Technology, and the Hustle n’ code Hackathon, see http://exploringtech.org/.