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Hackathon for students a great success

Hackathon for students a great success

Last updated 13 March 2018
Last updated 03/13/2018

Students from high schools around Wellington and the local ICT Graduate School participated in the hackathon held at Victoria University of Wellington’s (VUW) Te Aro campus. The two-and-a-half day hackathon was organised by Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and Wellington ICT Graduate School with support from Weltec’s engineering school.

The hackathon introduced students to opportunities in ICT through a highly engaging experience. Mixed teams of high school and Graduate School students had to think about what makes science difficult to learn and to see if they could solve a range of problems.

Students were given a problem area, data, and tools, then they had to bring their own skills and resources to solve the challenges. They then had to find digital ways to make learning science fun. Supported by a team of mentors who were experts in science, IT and team work, they used their own skills and resources to develop their solutions. 

The top prize went to a team of students from Wellington High School, Onslow College and the ICT Graduate School. Each member of the team won a $2,000 scholarship to study at VUW. Their winning solution was a web-based programme to help teach chemistry. The programme, called Crackerjack, enables students to try chemistry experiments by dragging and dropping coloured flasks of virtual chemicals to combine them in different ways. A successful mixture results in rockets exploding across the screen.

Taita College students received a special award for their school by developing a kit of easy to make, low cost practical science activities for science students.

“I had a lot of fun and it was a fantastic learning experience,” said Jasleen Ghuliani from Wellington East Girls’ College.

To decide the winner, the judges considered the quality of the user experience, how new or improved the solution was, and how well it responded to the brief. They also took in to account how well the team had worked together. The judges were Sir Neville Jordan, Chair of Engineering Education to Employment (Engineering e2e) Steering Group, Brendan Kelly, the TEC’s Chief Information Officer, and Eva Sherwood Chair of Tech NZ’s Women in Tech. They were impressed by the level of commitment shown by all the teams, how well they worked together and the diversity of the solutions – competition was very high.

Brendan said that the participants’ enthusiasm and commitment was clear to the judges. “The teams had fun and all the solutions had potential.” He also noted that, “the skills exhibited by the students would be valued by any employer”.

Taita College students received their award at a recent assembly, with the award presented by Sir Neville Jordan and Brendan Kelly. Students and teachers enjoyed hearing from the winning team who explained their kit of easy to make, low cost science activities. The $1,000 prize will go to their science department, and the students will decide how it is spent.