December 19, 2019
Booting Up for the HacKOthon
In the wee hours of the day when most rational people should be catching some zzz’s, a zealous group of KO coders will be hosting a student-run HacKOthon in February for high schoolers throughout Connecticut. Their website states, “You are going to collaborate with your passionate peers and complete a project of your choice, which could be anything from software development to hardware implementation.”
The team of Tommy Dan ’21, Kodi Ezegbo ’23, Aman Kumar ’23, Vishal Kumar ’20, Charles Zhao ’22 sat down to discuss their plans for the event and stressed the importance of the collaborative nature of the project. Not only does the group want to promote STEM but more importantly, they want people to meet one another, work together and solve a problem. Just as no app is created by a single person but by a huge team, the HacKOthon group contends that the intrinsic part of coding is to learn how to cooperate.
Everyone was all in and put their heads together to design the user-friendly website. They concurred that working as a team was more fun because they could bring their ideas together to create something under the school’s name. Although the students still need to fine-tune the plans for the event, they said that a staff member from their school would accompany students from other area schools, and Upper School math teacher Josh Barthlemess would be advising their team. Ezegbo plans on sending emails to the local schools to solicit their participation.
Dan said, “You might think the Hackathon as an invention marathon. Over the course of one weekend, students will collaborate with their peers in small teams of two to six people. They can complete a project of their own choice, and the project could involve anything involving technology, phone apps, and websites. Afterward, you present your project to the judges to win prizes.”
Dan said it’s important the HacKOthon is beginner-friendly so that the KO group can introduce individuals to the world of STEM. There will be workshops teaching students how to code, build websites, cybersecurity, and the future of the STEM field. Vishal Kumar added that the team would give the students problems to solve and set up online chats as a final project.
“Coding is more than people expect from it. It is the new universal language. Both Tommy and I are from China and we speak Chinese, but the codes are the same from language to language. That’s the surprising thing. People from all over the world speak different languages but the code is the same. People can join together because we speak the same language. These things are universal. It’s really global stuff. They can learn this language from any corner of the globe. It’s more like a foreign language course. That’s how important it is,” said Zhao.
The team is well-versed in computing, programming, and artificial intelligence challenges and opportunities. And if you are worried about robots taking over the world, Zhao insists there’s nothing to fear. “People think it’s crazy things done by crazy scientists in Hollywood movies, but it’s actually not. People collect data to predict the future. That’s the same as functions in math. You find the derivative and the slope and then you create a line to predict the future result. That’s artificial intelligence. That’s not as mysterious as it appears in the movies. In the future, it’s not going to be horrible. It’s going to be super friendly. It might eliminate some jobs, but other jobs will be created, too,” said Zhao.
In the upcoming weeks, these proactive students are working on their ambitious idea and plan on partnering with Miss Porter’s to encourage women’s participation in the STEM field. These young coders will be in the vanguard in developing new technologies to better our world and solve problems we don’t even know we have.
The link is www.hackothon.org.