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  • Writer's pictureNasra

News Feature: Hackathon

By Nasra and Noah

On Tuesday 30th November, Bolingbroke Academy hosted a Hackathon for GCSE students from across the Ark Network and beyond.

The excitement was palpable as the room buzzed with the quiet hum of excited voices before the event began. The day’s purpose was simple: to create an app which would help solve a problem related to the climate crisis and present your idea to a panel. The panel consisted of the brilliant employees of Marshall Wace, who spent the day judging and supporting each groups effort, even offering their expert advice when completing a Q&A during the concluding presentation. Marshall Wace very kindly donated £5,000 worth of sponsorship for prizes and goodie bags.

Ms Edis, our principal, said a few words: ‘Our first hackathon; it was amazing! The atmosphere from the minute everyone started to arrive was filled with energy and excitement. We were so excited to have people in our academy from across the spectrum: other Ark schools, local schools in Wandsworth, and also schools from the independent sector. It’s wonderful to see everyone thinking so deeply in a subject which is only 20 years old. We know this group of young people are really going to put themselves on the map for Computer Science in the future.’

Our very own Mr Rye was the chief organiser of the day's events. When we spoke to him, he said that the Hackathon was great fun, and said he loved putting up the balloons with the school names.

After a round of discussions and sharing ideas, the students then moved on to the main event: solving a climate problem. 15 teams were created across the 7 schools attending, and each team started to design their ideas.

James McGinnigle, one of the judges from the Marshall Wace team, told us: "It was amazing. You've got so many really smart students with great ideas. It makes me very excited for the future of technology. My favourite part of the day was simply interacting with everyone on the floor and seeing all of you coding through the challenges. There are so many smart people coming up with creative ways to solve these problems."

The students were introduced to software to help them to build and design their applications. There were even creative logos made for their apps, all created within the short hours of that day!

The afternoon was then filled with coding problems - 5 problems formed with the objective of challenging the students and stretching them. While this was ongoing, teams went to deliver their pitches to the Marshall Wace graduates.

After all the pitches were delivered, we spoke to Ms McRoberts, a teacher at Ark St John's Academy, who said, “I think my favourite bit is just this part now where [the students] are working on these programs. You can hear that now people are still going around just seeing each other’s and they’re actually asking for help which I think is great.” She continued, “I think that’s one of the best things that we need to show by programming: we can all help each other.”

The day was a brilliant success and Mr Rye and the Computer Science teams from across the network are already thinking about how to make it even bigger next year. Bravo!

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