How to Organize a Hackathon for Your School District
Hackathons are a great way to start demonstrating how beneficial technology can be for solving everyday problems. Students need to see how a little collaboration on these issues can be helpful for the overall good. They learn how to set up new technology, learn new skills from peers, and develop lasting friendships that are built on education and technology development. Overall, these simple get-togethers can be an excellent tool for furthering academic goals.
Organizing and planning a hackathon for your school district will require a lot of planning. Start a few months in advance so you have plenty of time to think through all of these important topics.
Find a suitable venue.
Where will you be able to hold a hackathon for your school district? It will need to be in a central location that has access to many power outlets, has Wi-Fi, and will allow food and beverages nearby. These three attributes are the key to success with any hackathon, so you need to make sure that your students have access to them. Not all school districts keep these things readily at their students’ disposal, so you might have to search elsewhere for the perfect venue.
Fundraise and budget for the hackathon.
A good hackathon is never free for the host. School districts can minimize the out-of-pocket cost for student participants with fundraising. You will need to plan in advance for transportation for the students, a cost that Major League Hackers estimates will run around $3,500 for bussing. There is also the important cost of food for both meals and making snacks available to participants throughout the day. The MLH guide suggests planning for $7 for each meal and $10 per person for snacks and beverages.
Enlist the help of passionate and knowledgeable teachers.
Creating a team of leaders for your students to look up to and interact with is essential to helping them further their knowledge of a given field. You will need to have several adults on site the day of the hackathon who can help their students to bridge the gap between their current knowledge and the skills they need to achieve the goal of the event. A well-meaning teacher isn’t going to be as effective as someone who has had previous hacking experience with creating their own technology and platform.
Decide on the outcomes in advance.
Is your hackathon going to have winners and losers? This should be considered a sensitive subject for school district officials who want to plan a hackathon. While winning a prize could be a motivating factor for some students, it could also be too discouraging for others. The primary goal of a hackathon is to create and invent a new way of doing things. Decide in advance if you are going to reward “winning students” or if this is designed to be a way to encourage creativity and connection among your student body.
Hackathons can be a great addition to any school district who wants to actively encourage students to step into the world of modern technology. With a few of these key steps, you should be able to manage running your hackathon with ease.