Volunteering at a Hackathon

In July of last year, I had the opportunity to volunteer at an all-day hackathon organized by Teens Exploring Technology (TxT). The concept was simple: Take a coding event to a lower-income community that is generally not represented in the tech industry.

The event was hosted in Nickerson Gardens’ activity center, which coincidentally, is about three blocks from where I grew up. At the event, there were approximately 80 students with several dozen volunteers. I was joined by another veteran programmer and we were paired with five kids ranging from 13 to 16. Most of them had grown up with access to computers at school, but none had any programming experience.

Our task was to help them develop a simple website or mobile app. We only had eight hours, so we opted to build a website.

Helping with HTML

To introduce them to HTML, I began by writing boilerplate HTML on a small board which they simply copied. I then had them each write their name in the <title>  and in the <body> . After which, they saved their changes and opened the file in a browser. Their faces lit up with excitement the moment the browser opened up and they were able to see their name on the page.

Seeing their expressions was an extremely rewarding feeling for me and reminded me of when I started programming of how happy I was to see my work on the screen.

We continue coding throughout the day and introduced them to additional tags, added Bootstrap to the mix and a bit of JavaScript.


Video Recap

Recently, Txt posted a video from the event and to my surprise, it includes me at the beginning helping out the kids with simple HTML.


Continue to Volunteer

I had a great time at the event and hoped that we left even a small impact on the kids. TxT is once again hosting another Hustle N’ Code hackathon next month, which I will again be volunteering.