D211’s first coding event teaches project skills, computer science

District 211 held a Hack-a-thon, a two-day, 20-hour competitive and educational coding event, for the first time Jan. 19-20. Students from across the district gathered at Palatine High School to create projects and learn about computer science. On Jan. 19, students arrived at 6 p.m. and the event ended at 11 p.m., while the next day, students arrived at 6 a.m. and left at 11 p.m..

At the event, workshops were held for students of all levels, and teams competed against each other to win prizes. They were judged by industry professionals.

Some winning projects were a Twitter Bot that gave nutritional information on menu items, a video chat app that translated languages in real time using Google Translate, and a pollution index for Google Maps.

Students in the Hack-a-thon were also able to spend time with a diverse group of people and engage in healthy competition.

Siddhi Jain, ‘19, said, “I attended the event because of the experience. Not only were there people from different schools, but there were also people with different skill sets.”

Jain went on to say how this is not something she got to do every day, especially because she was able to learn so much from fellow students.

Ashay Parikh, ‘21, said, “I was involved in the Hack-a-thon because I love coding. I really enjoyed the event because it allowed experienced students freedom to do whatever they wanted but had workshops for beginners.”

Additionally, each school had two representatives for Code 211. Conant’s representatives were Nisha Pant and Saurav Sumughan. Pant, ‘20, said, “The purpose of Code211 was ultimately to expose and get kids interested in computer science. Students of all levels, even people who have never programmed before, were welcome to come to the event.”

She also said she would love to see the event become an overnight experience, like a traditional Hack-a-thon, and have more workshops and activities planned for the students.

Sumughan, ‘20, said, “This year, a total of about 100 students attended the Code 211. Though our goal is to get as many people as possible to try out coding, when we run the event next year, we hope that we can reach at least 150 students to come and experience what Computer Science can do for them.”

Superintendent Daniel Cates said he hopes the event will eventually expand and cover more ranges of students skills. He also said, “I believe coding is invaluable. Hopefully, in the future, we can inform local businesses about the coding skills that our students have to create internships and other opportunities.”

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