In August of 2022, Creative Minds hosted 3 events to get students adjusted to high school, practice their speaking skills, and participate in a hackathon! The hackathon spanned 4 days of ceremonies, coding development, and judging. The first place winning team in the general category and the Best Visual Design category were 3 students from the Philippines: Emery, Sophia, and Paul! We got to interview them to see what the event was like from a participant's perspective and learn of the challenges faced along the way to victory.
First of all, a hackathon is a coding competition where the prompts vary depending on the event. Different hackathons may ask for a game to be coded, chatbots, trackers, and the like. The participants of the Creative-Minds-hosted event were tasked with creating a website with a space theme, including requirements of containing a navigation bar, interactive elements, and had to feature a new space technology! The challenge was divided into two groups, for beginners, and for advanced coders. Emery noted that it was a good idea to label the experience level, saying, “I was glad there was something like this for all ages”. Although having previous coding experience as the group’s school has a mandatory coding class, they joined the beginner segment as a fun challenge.
The group settled on the final project being a website on the MethaneSAT, a satellite to be launched in 2023 which specializes in tracking methane emissions in Earth’s atmosphere as a step toward reducing greenhouse gases! The website would cover what is it, its features, pros, and cons, as well as the sponsor behind it. The group roles were divided into components. One wrote all the research notes and complied documents for the coding process, one used CSS and wireframes to visually enhance the website, while the other coded the main chunk of the website including the navigation bars, showing effective strategies for assigning roles.
A main goal of the project was “to remove the jargon” and have the website and information accessible to all ages, and to inspire the STEM career. Though the group met challenges through the time limit of 48 hours and poor wifi connection, as well as a team member being sick during the competition, the group won first place in general, and first place in Best Visual Design! Due to time zone differences, they were unable to join the workshops held during the hackathon to help the contestants, but Sophia claimed that holding it internationally was a good thing, “I think having it be held internationally was a really great step in making computer science more accessible to people”.
According to iDTech, employment and job opportunities in the STEM industry has grown 79% since 1990, but only 20% of U.S. high school graduates feel ready to take on STEM in a college setting. The interest in STEM is dwindling although the modern world relies on technology, and it was felt by the group too, with Emery stating, “When we joined, we weren’t really sure if we belonged to the correct category”, but insisted that STEM is something that everyone should look into, “When I discovered what stem could do, what STEM could offer, all these opportunities, it opens your mind... There should be no reason for you to think that you are not good enough because no one starts good... Coding can be learned anywhere, and science you can start learning anywhere. It's all on you for when you are ready to start, that's my main message. Don't let anything intimidate you”. On a similar note, Sophia emphasized the many resources available, ironically, online, to help you start on your programming journey, such as the app Scratch and through social media. “If you do find an interest in coding, you need to immerse yourself in it… There are really great ways to immerse yourself in it, and understand what you are getting into, and what coding is capable of while making it easy to understand and really beginner friendly… You will never really know until you try it”!
Coifman, Jon. “This Space Technology Can Cut Climate Pollution on Earth.” Environmental Defense Fund, 23 Nov. 2021, https://www.edf.org/climate/space-technology-can-cut-climate-pollution-earth?utm_source=google&utm_campaign=edf_methanesat_upd_acq&utm_medium=cpc&utm_id=1524073537&gclid=CjwKCAjw9suYBhBIEiwA7iMhNCJ45QbPfJSVEMugRiEkkan23RrjDRMVTgl1g59O8md1zQwPonXQtBoCTwAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
Ryan. “Stem Education Stats for 2022: Facts on Jobs & Careers, Shortage & Minorities.” ID Tech, 20 May 2022, https://www.idtech.com/blog/stem-education-statistics