REAL QUEENS FIX EACH OTHER'S CROWNS - Jeppe Code Kamoso Hackathon 2021
October 20th, 2021 was a Wednesday set aside for students at Jeppe High School for Girls to code. The day was split into a seniors track and a junior track. We had 28 seniors participating from Grades 10 and 11. These were students who had joined our 7-week course which had begun in July of 2021. The juniors consisted of 60 eager grade 8s and grade 9s which we split into two computer labs and who had never coded before. The seniors were to take part in a hackathon, and the juniors in a day of learning to code in Python.
We specifically rely on internet resources so that students connecting online to our CodeKamoso classes can follow along without issues but also not have to manage installations across the school's computer network. At 6:30 on Wednesday morning, however, we received a message from the Principal of Jeppe high school for Girls. For the first time in two years, there was a service supply issue and there was no internet at the school and no projection as to when the internet may return. An absolute disaster. The disaster was further exacerbated when we realized that the desktop computers could not connect to a wireless internet connection either.
Using mobile phone 4G hotspots, a 3G dongle, and a portable home LTE WiFi modem, we distributed internet between the senior and now single junior venues (windows and door wide, sanitizer circling, we smooshed all the juniors into the same computer lab). By 8:30 am we had Juniors glued to a projected screen from a single laptop and seniors at the ready of 6 laptops on loan from teachers and Code Kamoso community members. The day began ten minutes late at 8:40 with an inspiring talk by CEO Nyari Samushonga from WeThinkCode via our Code
Kamoso Discord server. She spoke of her journey from accounting into tech and encouraged our students to explore the creative world of coding as fierce young women who would go on to solve the problems of the world.
From there the juniors got straight into coding with Python. We split them into groups of 3 and followed along with trinket python tutorials on mobile phones to a larger projected illustration of the material while we covered it. When the internet eventually returned at around 12:30 pm students were very eager to get coding on bigger screens. Up to half the students forfeited their second break to complete the Tina Turtle python coding challenge. The close-off of the coding session for the juniors was a vibrant, loud, and high-energy group quiz via the online platform Kahootz.
In parallel, the seniors got started with their hackathons. Sphiwe Kabini took the students through a design thinking workshop intended to skill our senior coders with the ability to conduct the cognitive, strategic, and practical processes by which design concepts are developed. The students then chose from the following genres: Mobile App, Gamification with a Scratch Game, Website, or a Python Script App; they paired this with a problem theme to come up with the projects they would spend the rest of the day ideating, developing, and implementing in code. The 6 groups produced 6 different projects.
The Quadrilaterals team developed a mental health support website for students. The website is meant to act as a framework that supplies tools and links for identifying and managing stress and anxiety. TuckShop Bot team came up with a WhatsApp tuckshop ordering app. It would allow students to order items and save on tuckshop line drama and waiting times. The app provides options to choose from and gives you the summed amount of the items you have selected. The HistQuiz team came up with a history game that helps students learn about Nazis, Hitler, and the second world war. It was a narrative scratch game.
Team Hyphen attempted two solutions due to issues experienced with their first choice. Their first choice was a Biology Human Body Quiz game implemented from scratch but using a machine learning NLP model backend. The NLP model allows a question to be asked, and the answer (if found within the relevant Wikipedia page) would be returned. The RocketFuel Quest team developed a rocket fuel scratch game to assist with learning chemistry equations. The Server Monks team developed a School Scheduling website. Due to covid, there has been many
interruptions to the academic, cultural, and sporting schedules that are difficult to communicate as they happen. The website would keep students, teachers, and parents up to date with the expected happenings of the school with relevant real-time updates.
The senior teams graded each other's projects and combined together with grading conducted by a few junior participants who had not yet gone home, the top three projects were decided. Grading criteria included: How creative/innovative do you think the project idea is? Would the project help the school or its students? Did the project use a base project we went through in class? Did the team get far implementing the project in code? Is the project well communicated in the poster?
Thanks to sponsorship from Retro Rabbit as well as the individual contribution of Rory Bennett, together with the admin fee to the coding academy we were able to supply the winners of the hackathon with exciting prizes that would facilitate the STEM talents of the top three teams. In the first place, we had Server Monks, followed by The Quadrilaterals and Rocket Fuel Quest. The respective prizes were Arduino Starter Kits, Micro: Bit starter kits, and 14-in-1 Solar Robot kits (the prizes were awarded two weeks later and not all the students were available for the picture).
A special thank you to Retro Rabbit for the sponsorship of prizes, Rory Bennet for the sponsorship of further prizes as well as the supervision of the senior hackathon. Daniel Kalmer for the supervision of the junior coding workshops. Pelonomi Moiloa for the organization of the hackathon and the content of the two tracks. Dina Goncalves for the facilitation of setting up a coding day. Nyari Samushonga and Sphiwe Kabini for taking time out of their demanding schedules to shed light. Andrew for the support in the computer lab and the teachers and community members who loaned us their precious laptops. A most special thanks to the Jeppe Girls who participated in the coding day. Thank you for your enthusiasm and willingness to learn to code.
The fourth industrial revolution is here, and the rapid technology-driven change brings with it opportunities for leaders, policy-makers, and people from all income groups and nations, to take advantage of converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centered future. However, with this opportunity arises great challenges which threaten the ability of this promise to positively impact all members of society. One of the greatest areas of concern is the representation of women in this digital future. Kamoso means "tomorrow" in Setswana. Code Kamoso is a prompt for anyone and everyone to be a part of determining what that tomorrow will be. Rather than letting technology be something that happens to us, we would like for all of us to decide how it will grow with us. We encourage our students to participate in the future now, by writing our narratives, our cares, hopes, and dreams into the technology of that future.