A group of Eastlake High School students are organizing an event to promote computer science education among middle schoolers and encourage some fun competition along the way.
Eastlake’s Computer Science Honor Society (CSHS) is hosting a virtual software hack-a-thon, and teams of up to five middle school students from throughout Lake Washington School District can sign up. About 230 middle school students are expected to compete.
The event, which started on April 13, launched with workshops to teach students basic skills in coding, user interface and app design. The actual competition begins on April 19 with an opening ceremony. Teams will then have five days to create a computer application, on any platform they choose, based on one of three yet-to-be announced themes. Judges will evaluate the best apps in the beginner and advanced heats, allowing students of all experience levels to participate. The winners will be announced on April 30.
There will also be a guest speaker on April 21. Nolan Dost, a user interface designer at Grumbismal Games, will talk to students about his experience in app design and career paths in the real world.
“We wanted to give more opportunity to middle schoolers in the district, knowing the pandemic, COVID times, etc.,” said Sagunya Malhotra, 16, one of the organizers of the event. “We wanted to create some interaction with each other, since you can compete in groups, something students can look forward to through the year since we’re all virtual.”
CSHS plans to make the hack-a-thon an annual event. Future events may even include in-person elements once the pandemic subsides.
Anya Yerramilli, 17, a co-lead of this event, also hopes to broaden the club’s outreach in the future, perhaps to computer science classes for elementary and middle school students.
“Just being at Eastlake, we’ve seen that the computer science classes have gained so much interest,” said Yerramilli. “Because it’s something that’s becoming so popular, I think it’s good to have that introduction early on. Having a hack-a-thon would allow students to get involved with computer science even if they don’t know anything.”
Registration for the hack-a-thon is open until April 19 for middle school students in Lake Washington School District.