AtomHacks

Wolverines unite for a weekend of computer science activities

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Sanford James

Mentor Isaiah Mondesir said, “HTML is like the body, and JavaScript is like the lungs,” an analogy that he used to explain the roles of different programming languages in a website.

Due to our increasing reliance on smart devices, technology has become an important part of our daily lives.  Whether it id an alarm on your smartphone to wake you up in the morning, or a voice command to turn off your lights at night, technology – and the software behind its functions – has become the backbone of the tasks we perform on a daily basis.  The development of a myriad of software and applications will undoubtedly continue as the growing capabilities of smart devices evolve. This trend has manifested itself in our school through the astronomical growth of computer science activities available for students in recent years.

Currently, students at Bronx Science can take a number of courses related to computer science, including Coding for All and AP Computer Science.  However, with the introduction of hackathon-style events, the opportunities for students at Bronx Science to develop their coding skills are no longer limited to classes.  On December 1st, 2018, students had the opportunity to attend Local Hack Day, an event sponsored by Major League Hacking. This event included workshops such as “Build and Deploy your Own Website,” and “No-Code App Building with Mendix.”

Sanford James
AtomHacks participants work together on their project.

Bronx Science also held its fifth annual hackathon, dubbed AtomHacks, on March 30th, 2019.  AtomHacks was sponsored by the Bronx Science alumni foundation, along with companies like Stickermule, Baked by Melissa, Hudson River Trading, and Major League Hacking.  Students worked alone, or with teams, on coding projects that encompassed a number of programming languages during an eight hour time span. While some projects were intended to solve issues in our society today, like an app to flag litter in public spaces, and an extension that filters out sensitive content for those with PTSD, other projects included renditions of classic computer games like minesweeper and hangman.

 

Sanford James
Jeff Olson from Upperline Code explains the basics of JavaScript during a workshop.

AtomHacks participants with prior knowledge of coding were able to enhance their skills by working with notable mentors, and students with little to no knowledge of coding were able to participate in workshops, like an introduction to JavaScript by Jeff Olson from Upperline Code.  By receiving help from mentors while working on their project, students were able to accomplish things they had not attempted prior to coming to AtomHacks. Nick Chen ’21 said, “It’s something I haven’t tried before,” as he discussed the importance of local server he created to host his webpage.  Mentors also provided invaluable insight; for example, Isaiah Mondesir provided the analogy, “HTML is like the body, and JavaScript is like the lungs,” to explain the roles of different programming languages in a website.

“HTML is like the body, and JavaScript is like the lungs,” said mentor Isaiah Mondesir.

At the end of the event, students demonstrated the functionality of their projects.  These demonstrations included an explanation of what students intended to accomplish through their programs, and their future  goals on what they would do to further develop their program. Through this demonstration process, students were able to compete for prizes.  Ria Cha ’21 said, “I want to get the switch,” referring to the first place prize of a Nintendo Switch. Other awards included a drone and an amazon gift card for second and third place, respectively.  These awards were given out based on the discretion of a panel of judges. This panel included alumni of Bronx Science like Daniel Ranells, the former IT administrator of Bronx Science, Eleanor Coufos, the Vice President of the Alumni Foundation, and Jack Cook, the founder of AtomHacks.

Sanford James
AtomHacks participants watch a presentation of a project that was created at the event.

While we may not know what role technology will play in the future, one thing is clear – AtomHacks will be an important event to create the next generation of computer scientists.

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