Written by Kiran Brar, Ark Programmes and Operations Administrator
This month saw the return of the much-anticipated #ArkHack – proudly declared our “best one yet” (Tom Rye, Vice Principal at Bolingbroke). The third event of its kind, the Hackathon brought together 10 Ark schools from near and far to take part in an event in which students would compete, work together, and showcase their computing prowess. Designing an app which can tackle the issues of climate change is no easy feat, and the students certainly rose to the occasion and seized the day in all its competition and excitement. Students took their skills to the next level by presenting a pitch for their app to a panel of judges from our sponsor Marshall Wace.
Real-life context and applications of Hackathon
As echoed by the teachers and students who attended, what makes Hackathon stand out is how it offers a welcome departure from the typical classroom setting. Students got a taste of computing in a real-life context and were able to harness their skills, knowledge and interest in the subject and apply it to global issues of the day. In fact, one Isaac Newton student said they really enjoyed how it “puts you under pressure, and also makes you think right on the spot…what you need to do – it puts you in that real time and space, where you get into that mode.”
A chance to connect and collaborate
Hackathon offered a rare and wonderful opportunity for students to work together, collaborate as well as compete, which is not typically the case when studying computer science. Students got a chance to engage with and learn from others, share their views and grow not only their skills but their confidence in computing. Hackathon brought together not only students, but teachers across computer science and the network. This speaks to the all-round importance and impact of the annual event. It’s fantastic to see it how it allowed for teachers to “come together and connect and exchange ideas – and come together in a way that we don’t normally" (Richard Forster, Head of Computer Science at Bolingbroke).
Progress made, and much more to come
Congratulations to our winning team – Isaac Newton! They came up with an innovate app which not only provided a means for monitoring water usage, but also took steps to focus on improving water accessibility and sustainability on a global scale. To award their ingenuity, the team walk away with a their very own Sphero RVR Programmable Robot – just one of many exciting prizes of the day!
Being an all-girl team, our winners bring to light an important issue. Contextually speaking, a gender divide and lack of diversity has long plagued the computing world. In education and the workplace, women in tech occupy a very small percentage, for example, “the industry average is about 10% in technical engineering fields” (Edward Withers, Head of Computer Science at Pioneer).
With this in mind, our winners are a testament to the exciting progress that is surely making its way. And we are proud to see firsthand how an event like Hackathon can help inspire and encourage all students to explore their potential, and even pursue a path in tech, especially those who are underrepresented in the sector.