Posted by debbie weissmann
The Bay Area Computer Science Council shared their tips and tricks for Creating Inclusive Hackathons for the SoCalSoBay, GLA, and IE chapters.
After introductions Maddie started with choosing a topic. Maddie let us know it's important to choose your theme carefully to engage with your audience, to consider what you want your audience to explore. 
Maddie gave us 2 examples to think about. 
Topic 1.
UN Sustainable Development Goal #15
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Topic 2. 
Maddie explained what to look for in a topic. It should be specific. It should be productive in inspiring projects. And it should be inclusive, everyone should be able to identify with the topic. Which of the two examples meets the criteria? Green! Everyone can interpret and create a project with their idea of what Green means.
Next Catherine shared the importance of good communication. The BAYCSC uses Discord for their communication needs. Catherine let us know it's like Zoom + Slack. It offers channels for teams, multiple people can share screens at the same time, and it's really easy to use. Catherine showed us what the Discord page looked like for an Inclusive Hackathon with the various channels for rules, introductions, participants, each team's channel, and the private channels for the organizers. They even had a Help_Desk channel. We, the audience, agreed we needed to be using Discord.

Nat inspired us to build diverse and amicable teams with a demo of building affinity groups. Nat let us know we need diverse teams (age, experience) so we don't create echo chambers, and we need amicable teams (shared interests or shared dislikes) to create cohesive groups. Nat explained the importance of having a dispute resolution system in place so participants who may disagree do not hold their anger, but instead have a way to work it out. We were then offered the chance to practice creating teams based on demo data and discovered it was not as easy as it looks. Nat reminded us that really, there are no bad teams. At the same time, the individual's experience will be influenced by their team. So making diverse and amicable teams brings people back to the next hackathon. 
Next mayro let us know that celebrating everyone was integral to hackathons. mayro suggested an awards ceremony with an award personalized to what each team does well. One example mayro shared was "Award for Resourcefulness" identifying what about the project demonstrated resourcefulness. Another example shared was "Award for UDL" for a project that had multiple ways of presenting data. 
The group then provided a very helpful demo of the hackathon workshop. They showed us how they identified their target audience [beginners in middle and high schools], and their goals [to learn the basics of coding language while collaborating on a project].  They decided to have projects in Python using Turtle and Java. They provided a challenge: real life data visualization. They showed us a slide for inclusion and success => Mindsets. ask questions. make mistakes. engage at your level: watch, code with us, be inspired and make your own project. The group explained the topic to us and then gave an us example projects. They helped us move onto to start coding. They showed us how to set up a Python turtle object and how to make the object move leaving a trail on the canvas. They provided sample links for reference and sample projects we could explore and/or fork.
All in all, a great presentation!
If you have high school students who want to join the BAYCSC, they encouraged us to reach out to them. And if you have students that want to create their own Inclusive Hackathons they said they would be glad to help set them up. 
Thank you to the BAYCSC for an awesome PD presentation.