Competitors -hunched over their laptops – were whispering and clicking away on keyboards at Parish Episcopal School February 26 and 27 during hack|ED ntx, an educational hackathon (Photo Gallery by Wiley Williams). The so-called hackers were not tapping into top secret documents; they were integrating education, engineering and entrepreneurship.
“It seemed like a perfect add to the School’s community outreach via ParishSTEM,” said Jenn Makins, Director of STEM Education. “The event introduced Parish to a new subset of the STEM community to our campus and unique programming.”
The hackathon was founded by Parish Episcopal, North Texas Enterprise Center (NTEC), Guild of Software Architects and iLLUMINATE STEM. Patrick Hudson, Parish parent and CEO of Robot Entertainment, gave a keynote address to the students on Saturday about careers in Game Design. In addition, the event featured a traditional competitive track for experienced students and professionals, but also integrated an educational track for younger students with little or no experience.
“As technology continues to become more and more prominent in our lives, computer programming will become an education essential, stated Makins. "It is important to expose our students to new opportunities with technology.
Nearly a hundred people, including Parish students in 5th – 9th grade, participated in the two day event. Competitors designed, created and presented innovative applications for iOS and Android wearable platforms to a panel of judges. The goal: win a prize and connect with mentors, investors and the community.
“I have always thought it would be fun to participate as a programmer in a real hackathon, so I was very excited to be a part of hack|ED and proud that it took place at Parish.” said Raj A., Class of 2021.
Three Parish 7th graders - Raj A., Cole H. and Will B. - were on a team that received 3rd place in the overall competition. They were recognized for a mobile game they coded in Lua language, a program that was new to them.
“I appreciated the mentors that came to help us learn various Lua steps that were more complicated,” noted Raj. “The best part was getting to work with friends on a team over two days to create our own working mobile game!"
The educational track of the hackathon not only gave students a chance to work with professionals, it also exposed them to problem solving through coding and design innovation. The curious techies gained knowledge that could help them become future leaders in development, technology and entrepreneurship.
“This event is another great example of Parish leading the way in hosting exciting events that benefit both our students and the community,” said Jagruti Anthony, Parish parent. “A big thank you goes out to Makins and the Parish IT Department for dedicating all of Friday and Saturday toward making this event happen,” she added.
Parish programmers may get another crack at hack|ED again next year. The organizers hope to make it an annual event.
“We heard great speeches from some company leaders that inspired and motivated us,” added Raj. “This was a very fun experience, so I can't wait for the fun to begin at the next hack|ED.”
A special thanks to the many sponsors that made the event possible, especially BB&T, Dell Services Marketing, Fossil and Robot Entertainment.