There has been great excitement at Prewired over the last few weeks as we have prepared to take part in The Festival of Code 2015, the world’s largest hackathon for young people. The festival – organised by Young Rewired State – will this week see over 1200 young people at centres in the UK and abroad team up to create a website, app, game, algorithm or hardware hack using open data.
This morning saw 23 young coders aged between 9 and 18 arrive at Codebase to hear presentations by Professor Ewan Klein (Open Data), Professor Graham Stone (Ecology of Bees), Sally Kerr (City of Edinburgh Council Open Data), Charlotte Gorman (ALISS Project) and Mike McQuaid (GitHub). The presented challenges were about tourism, bee highways, litter control, health and well being, social prescribing and biodiversity. The young people were then encouraged to work in teams to create unique ideas for their projects. These ideas were discussed, shared and eventually 9 teams coalesced around the projects that excited them.
All day, volunteer mentors worked alongside the young people, encouraging and reassuring them that they will be able to learn new skills and extend the current skills that their projects demand. At the end of the afternoons the teams, newly named, presented their concepts to the rest of the room and talked about the programmes, resources and open data that they thought they might need to use to realise them.
Between Tuesday and Thursday participants will work on their hacks and get them ready for upload. Then, joining students from Aberdeen and Glasgow, they will travel down to Birmingham by coach (road trip!) to meet with all the other young people taking part in the Festival of Code. Late into the night on Friday they will polish their projects and prepare for the presentation heats on Saturday and, fingers crossed, the finals on Sunday. Whatever happens, this week is going to be full of creativity, learning, teamwork, and joy.