On March 5, the Saint Francis Programming Club hosted its fifth annual LancerHacks, a hackathon filled with fun activities and coding for students from the eighth to twelfth grade. The event ran for thirteen hours, from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. Teams were given the day to code a project that revolved around the theme “Doodle the Future.” The projects encouraged students to draw inspiration from scientific and technological developments, while simultaneously applying their own creativity. At the end of the day, participants presented their work to a panel of judges. There were seven awards total with three main categories: best project overall, best project made by an all-female team, and best project made by first-time LancerHacks attendees.
Aside from the coding aspect of the event, students also engaged in rewarding activities like dodgeball, an escape room, jeopardy, and speaker talks. One of the attendees, Anirudh Kannan (’24), mentioned, “The thing [I] enjoyed the most were the fun activities, specifically the speaker talks, which were enlightening.”
Several guest speakers, such as Paul Golden and Gary Brown, spoke with students. These speakers, many of whom are leaders in their fields, discussed their technology careers, the applications of computer science in their jobs, and answered questions.
The organizers worked hard to plan the event and find sponsors. One of the coordinators, Ruhi Yusuf (’24), described the long preparation process: “We started looking for guest speakers in September and October, and from November onward, we were just nonstop planning. A lot of the planning entailed reaching out to sponsors to get different types of prizes and discounted merchandise. We also had to plan our budget very carefully, buy food… and plan the logistics of a schedule.”
While it required lots of time and effort on their part, the student leaders enjoyed a resounding success, as both the participants and organizers had a lot of fun. Programming Club board member Medha Mahanta (’24) enjoyed “seeing participants brainstorm and develop their projects during the event [and]… watching the teams develop their ideas and solve their coding obstacles.” However, there are still several improvements that the organizers want to work on going forward; Mahanta continued: “We really want to expand our outreach, get more people involved, and have a very cohesive environment that can allow more participants to have fun in our in-person event.”
Overall, the hackathon was a great event that allowed students to gain more coding experience and receive valuable insight from experienced coders in the software industry. The hackathon’s creative aspect and emphasis on collaboration with peers helped students think outside the box and build stronger connections with other coding enthusiasts. Many students with varying levels of expertise in computer science participated, further demonstrating the importance of having a variety of perspectives when a group of people attempts to solve a problem.