School hosts second annual hackathon


photo by Jessica Gallo

Students present the prompt facing contestants in the second annual hackathon hosted by CESJDS, which was to help people manage and maintain their health.

Helping people manage and maintain their health was the prompt that kept 13 teens from local high schools busy for 11 straight hours this past Sunday at CESJDS’ second annual hackathon.

Hackathons are typically day-long coding events where students come together in small teams to create new projects often centered around a common theme. Participants used math, science, engineering, computer science and other skills to create applications, websites and other products to solve the given problem.

This year, at JDS’ shortened hackathon, students used coding skills to create apps and websites to help people better manage their health. Final products included a recycling tracker and material disposal adviser, health trackers and a water contamination mapping device.

Senior Austin Kaminow assisted Upper School STEM Coordinator Cassandra Batson with putting the hackathon together and was pleased with the turnout.

“I came up with the prompt for this year and helped find the judges,” Kaminow said. “I think it went pretty well, and everyone did a really good job working all day to get their projects done.”

The winning project was a water contamination project that determined the quality of water in an area based on an area’s zip code. The winning team received a $100 Amazon gift card. 

Overall, Batson is satisfied with the results of the hackathon and is already in the process of thinking about improvements for next year to engage students from JDS. The hackathon consisted of no JDS students, with most from Poolesville High School and one from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.

“I think the Hackathon went well overall. All the students who participated this year were from other schools,” Batson said in an email. “I wished some of our own students would have participated. I’m already thinking about ways to change the event next year so that we can not only get the interest of returning participants but also new participants.”