Posted by debbie weissmann
Emily Thomforde shared The World's Shortest Hackathon! Emily provided a a hackathon experience with all the challenges, emotions, and hands-on learning of a real hackathon in just an hour. We were given all of the resources to replicate the experience for our students using's AppLab.
Our topic for the GLA January Chapter meeting was a demo to host The World's Shortest Hackathon.
Emily Thomforde was our presenter. Emily is the State Coordinator for Computer Science, a BAFTA winning video game developer and part of the leadership team for 3 Northern California CSTA chapters
Context. Emily started out by setting the context of The World's Shortest Hackathon. It's about starting, not finishing, she told us. And it's about focusing on the hack of the hackathon,  ethical hacking and creating as opposed to ill intentioned break-ins and disruptions.  
Identify a Topic. Next Emily explained her strategy to identify a topic. She asked if anyone had a topic in mind, and then said if we did, we needed to write it down and then archive it for another collaboration project. The World's Shortest Hackathon participants needed to come together on an idea chosen by all the teams. For our demo Emily provided three news headlines with problems that needed solving. She mentioned that we should strive to identify problems that would be meaningful to the hackathon participants, whether it was headlines from current news like the ones she provided for us, or issues that impacted students. In the end, we all chose to think about a story about a fire in a building in NY. 
Groups. We divided ourselves into groups of 2 - 3 with at least one person in each group having access to AppLab | where Emily provided a starter for our projects. Emily mentioned that it's best to have a range of skills and knowledge domains in each group to make for rich, collaborative, brainstorming and designing.
Problem to Address. Next, we were told to explore the 3 Whys relative to the news articles to find a Root Cause.  Ask Why 3 times to get to the root of the issue.
Why - what happened? 
Why - why did that happen?
Why - what's the cause behind that?
For our demo our 3 Whys were: (Why 1) a space heater started a fire, a fire door didn't close properly, smoke filled multiple floors and people died. (Why 2) the pandemic, people are staying home, more people in the building, more space heaters turned on (Why 3) poverty necessitates space heaters because buildings are not up to code and people are code in NY in the winter.
The Root Cause in our example: poverty. 
Then we were asked to come up with a problem statement.
Each group was asked to come up with their own problem statement and asked to think about the most interesting aspect of the problem.
Hands-On Creativity. We moved into breakout rooms to create mock-ups of an app that would address the problem from an angle of our choosing. We were asked to bring our authenticity of experience to our solutions. Emily mentioned that in hosting this type of hackathon we should offer 1 open ended problem to solve, but constrain everything else, such as the platform and tools. For this demo hackathon we used the AppLab| platform where we played around with home screens and hyperlinked screens, with mocked up buttons, and mocked up console output. 
Presentation. After fifteen minutes, which felt too short, intentionally, when Emily closed the breakout rooms, we all came back to the main room and shared our projects. Each approach was unique to solve our identified problem, each project was inspiring, and each group was celebrated for the product and also for the courage to try something new and take aim at an intractable problem. 
It was a great experience for all of us.
If you weren't able to join us at the January TWSH, we hope to have a video recording and Emily's slides available soon. Or, come to our March 10th meeting where the Bay Area Youth ComputerScience Council (BAYSC), will share their strategies for an Inclusive Hackathon. It will be presented as an activity for high school students that can be adjusted for upper elementary, middle school grade bands. 
Questions, comments, suggestions - we want to hear from you