In its fourth year the annual Back-To-School Code-A-Thon supports students in exploring the world of entrepreneurship and software development. Taking place across the US in three states, NY, PA, and OH, each year we set out to bring an exciting program to communities that would not normally be exposed to this type of immersive learning experience in their regular school district programs. Our goals; to increase interest in the fastest growing career opportunities, increase diversity in computer science participation, and support communities in building the workforce skills necessary to grow and build innovative solutions that solve global problems.
Each year a team of volunteers sets out to plan and execute on their local 48 hour program. All orchestrated to take place simultaneously across the sites involved. For the past four years that planning has taken place beginning in late August- September until the final date of the program, taking place the last weekend in January. The site lead in Darby, PA, Jennifer Hoff who is not only a School Board member for the district in Darby, PA, but runs her own business Hoff Communications, Inc. . Jennifer is key to the program's success each year. Her passion to support her community is evident in her dedication to ensure students within the district and surrounding communities get the chance to experience what a career in coding feels like.
This program has grown organically each year with more students participating and more communities seeking interest in bringing this program to their students. In the first two years of the program we were lucky to have the opportunity to partner with a team in Australia led by Kathy Bunce, a Harvard Alumna and very close friend of mine. Unfortunately in 2017, Kathy lost a battle to a rare form of cancer and the team is recovering from her loss. We hope to someday bring the Perth, Australia Code-A-Thon site back in honor of all the hard work Kathy accomplished in bringing this program to much needed communities of Western Australia.
In 2017 we were contacted by two engineers from the community of Sandusky County, OH. These two young engineers saw the need to engage their community in an immersive learning experience designed to teach coding skills. Like Jennifer Hoff, Elizabeth Royster, and Doug Steinberger wanted more for the students in their community, their passion to support their community is demonstrated in their hard work over the past two years engaging students from areas across OH, where in some cases students traveling over an hour to be a part of the program. Both Doug and Elizabeth work full time in engineering careers, and see the career opportunities going unfilled due to the lack of training and skills development surrounding these new growing careers that require strong communications skills, computational thinking, and problem solving skills.
Having passionate leaders willing to commit their own personal time to engage their entire community in an immersive learning program is just part of what it takes to bring this program to life. In order to ensure the program's success, they need to feed the students and build the volunteer participation to execute the program. With the primary site hosted in Westbury, NY at the WCTD facility our team supports the planning, fundraising, and instructors for the overall program delivery.
Thank you to the Westside Cafe for the generous donation of Lunch and Dinner on Saturday for our Westbury site location.
John's passion for supporting students to learn to code provided us with a connection to Kerri Shotts, Kerri is a ROCKSTAR! For the past two years Kerri has supported our Westbury, NY Code-A-Thon location teaching Advanced Web Development. John, Kerri, Vincent, and Raffi are supported by local industry developers who come out to each site location to engage as mentors. These mentors are there as support to teach the students how they problem solve, and take the opportunity to share with the students how they built their careers and how they gained support from their network of peers.
As a team we could not execute on this program without the volunteers who help drive things in the background. A big thank you to Allison Bloom for leading our Volunteer Recruitment for the past four years. To our social media and marketing team, Tuqa Youssef, and Maureen Sanchez. To Anam Javaid for her incredible talent for designing this year's Tshirts, and to the team at Spectrum Designs for their partnership over the past two years to support a low cost tshirt for each of our students, volunteers, and mentors.
There are so many community members that are responsible for this program's success some at the local level like Chris Gomez at Darby supporting teaching and mentoring students, to Cathy Monacella who is my right hand in ensuring we are ready to go in Westbury, to Mitra Ramdas a teacher and parent from Roosevelt School District, who spent the entire weekend with us supporting our team and the students participating. Thank you to Nicholas Leask for supporting the program as a mentor for students, and for supporting me throughout the weekend. To Melissa Wylie for her support in running the consulting business while I volunteer my time to support WCTD.
But wait there is more… A huge thank you to Maestro for his support over the past three years, arriving every morning full of energy to get the students up and motivated for the day through exercises. To all the financial supporters who believe in the work we are doing to support the transformation of education and ensuring that every student has the opportunity to learn and succeed in a career in STEAM in their future. To the volunteer judges who came out on Sunday to support us in providing students feedback and evaluating the projects. Thank you to all of our volunteers and sponsors who made this program possible.
And finally… To my family, and all the families of our volunteers, who have supported us for the past 6 years in building this organization, thank you for putting up with missed dinners, missed events, and for allowing us to make education a top priority.
And yes, but what about the winning teams? The reason we are all here, and why we commit our time and resources, it is all demonstrated in the outcomes that are produced by the students. Students who commit their entire weekend to learn to work together, to solve global problems, and yes learn to code. A big shout out to this year's winning teams! Check out their incredible work!
Westbury Student Projects:
First Place - Team #1, Capsule Net: https://we-connect-the-dots.github.io/Codathon_2019_Team_1_Westbury/
Second Place - Team #10, Anzen: https://erin122800.github.io/Anzen/Anzen%20Homepage%20HTML.html
Third Place - Team #6, Deadly Deceases in Africa: https://we-connect-the-dots.github.io/Codathon_2019_Team_6_Westbury/
Team #2, Nairobi: https://we-connect-the-dots.github.io/Codathon_2019_Team_2_Westbury/
Team #4, Project Environment: https://we-connect-the-dots.github.io/Codathon_2019_Team_4_Westbury/
Team #7, Anit-Hunger Organization: https://we-connect-the-dots.github.io/Codathon_2019_Team_7_Westbury/
Team #8, Education for All: https://we-connect-the-dots.github.io/Codathon_2019_Team_8_Westbury/
Darby Student Projects:
First Place - Team #5, Nutri-Go: https://nutrigo.github.io/index.html#
Second Place - Team #6, Operators: https://learningequality28.github.io
Third Place - Team #4, Man vs. Nature: https://man-v-s-nature.github.io/
Team #1, We Stand: https://from-here-we-stand.github.io/
Team #2, EPE: https://excellenceprideempowerment.github.io/
Team #3, Dangers of Drugs: https://dangersofdrugs.github.io/
Fremont Student Projects: (Check back for links)
First Place - Team #5, Human impact on animals:
Second Place - Team #3, Cause and effects of healthy and unhealthy diets:
Third Place - Team #2, Helping others know you care:
Team #1 -Humans impacted the Earth:
Team #4. Music therapy:
Team #6, Keeping it clean keep it green:
How can you help us?
Learn how you can support our organizations initiatives here: https://www.we-connect-the-dots.org/donate/
Looking to bring this program to your community? Deadline for new site locations is May 1st, 2019
For more information - review our Host information packet
What’s coming next…
Watch for our program research summary article being published later this month. This will incorporate the impact metrics from this year’s program, our pre and post assessment taken by participants across all the locations. This research helps our organization create continuous improved and measures our learning outcomes for participants.