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Hackathons for Middle and High School Students

Hackathons for Middle and High School Students

As we discussed in our last week’s post, there is no such thing as a correct age to participate in hackathons, we need diversity. No joke!

What if, instead of developers, designers, business professionals, hackathon participants were high schoolers?! Hackathons are a good way of instigating students’ creativity and cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit.

Have you already watched the famous TED Talk Do Schools Kill Creativity? Sir Ken Robinson talks about the importance of creativity and the various types of intelligence. He highlights that schools currently reprimand students for their mistakes and that this attitude distances kids and teenagers from creative thinking. By the end of his talk, Robinson urges for the adoption of an educational system that stimulates creativity, instead of killing it. Isn’t he correct?

It is in this context that school hackathons show to be extremely relevant. Hackathons act as to stimulate students’ creative intelligence and soften the problem presented by Robinson in his talk, given that they are marathons of creativity, innovation, and experimentation.

Ok, I got it up until now; but, how can we organize hackathons in schools if the largest part of students in Brazil don’t know how to code – yet? Let’s make hackathons that don’t necessarily involve hard coding! Some would say that, if there is no programming, the event is an ideathon, an ideation marathon. So be it! Ideathons are the first step towards more robust hackathons; the important is that the mindset of hacking marathons is there in schools. Still, depending on the topic, target audience, and specific purposes, ideathons may be more adequate.

Let’s go through some practical examples

A group of students at Colégio Bandeirantes has created BEINPROSONE (Being Innovative and Producing Something New), an initiative that adopted hackathons as a means of solving issues through the creation of prototypes quickly and creatively. After an intense day of classes, students continue at the school on a Friday to kick off the weekend marathon.

Going through 4 phases (introduction to the theme, hands-on, presentations, and judging), students interested in participating in develop projects according to the hackathon topic. The first day is dedicated to the formation of teams and bonding activities, aside from informative talks to inspire guests and generate insights. On the second day, groups get to effectively work on their projects and, finally, the third day is left to projects completion and presentation to the judges.

The first edition, in 2015, asked for solutions to enable healthy lunch boxes. In the second year of BEINPROSONE, inspired by the Fun Theory, the marathon asked students to come up with ways of intervening at the school. In the following year, 2017, students structured plans to advertise Colégio Bandeirantes’ new logo. And in 2018, participants were challenged to design strategies for the creation of new businesses in large corporations. 

Finally, this year’s edition (2019) had urban mobility in São Paulo as its theme. Shawee had the honor of participating in this recent edition! We have made our platform available for BEINPROSONE’s management and have landed our CEO and our favorite master of ceremonies to facilitate the group activities in the marathon’s first day.

Shawee at the last edition of BEINPROSONE

After so many successful editions exclusively organized to High School students, the organizing team decided to extend the initiative to Middle School students. In the first edition, in 2017, participants had to think about ways of surviving from a plane crash in a desert island #lostfeelings.

Other topics such as professions of the future and even solutions to the problems of São Paulo’s Municipal Offices were presented as challenges, under the orientation of high school students acting as mentors.

Yes, my friend, kids these days are nailing it! You can count on them in hackathons.

Have you enjoyed reading about it? Do you want to organize a hackathon in your school? Come talk to Shawee!!! We can help you!

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