Using tech to address real world problems
Over the span of three days, teen learners used technology to build mobile app solutions to pressing and relevant problems in today’s society. SafeGo was created to help anyone walking somewhere alone feel more safe. Another team built Buddies Over Seas, an application to help newcomers to Canada connect to resources for adjusting to life in a new country. MentorMeconnects students and job-seekers to industry professionals, in order to build a professional network of mentors and explore career opportunities. Among other ideas were apps to address time management, track personal finances, access medical records, and donate to the homeless.
In addition to workshops on MIT App Inventor, design thinking, front end web development, and UX/UI design, teens also had time to work on their projects—and meet some incredible guest speakers over Lunch and Learn sessions. Our first speaker was CEO of Toronto health-tech startup Dot Health, Huda Idrees. Huda shared her experiences in Toronto’s start-up scene, and discussed the importance of increasing diversity in tech—and the important role teenage girls have in shaping this. On Sunday, we were joined by Julia Meriel, a recent UWaterloo grad turned UX Researcher and Business Analyst, who spoke about navigating and choosing her career path.
Teens report back on their hackathon experience
Here’s what some of the teens had to say about their experience:
My experience for the hackathon was amazing! Having the opportunity to interact and work with people from so many different tech backgrounds definitely added diversity to the project’s process and outcome. Some girls had knowledge and experience with creating apps, others (like me!) had no clue, but the environment created during the hacakthon made you feel welcome to learn, make mistakes and celebrate together. Overall I loved the experience and cannot wait to get involved in the future.
– Vyjayanthi Janakiraman, grade 11
Teen Club’s 2017 Hackathon was incredible. Not only was I able to learn how to code in two different languages, as well as hone my UI/UX design skills, I was able to work with incredible like-minded girls who shared a passion for tech and innovation. This was my final year, and I have participated in all the Teens Learning Code hackathons since the initial program pilot. What I can say was different about this hackathon was the speakers list and time allotted to work on our projects. We talked about the perceptions of being female in a forward thinking environment and how “the future is female”, which was overall the take-away message for this hackathon. I loved meeting as many of the bright girls as possible and enjoyed the close-community vibe we created in just a few days. Teen Club’s Hackathon is an amazing way to start off with business or programming, developing speaking skills and proactiveness.
– Alexia, grade 12
This was my first time going to a hackathon and it was a blast! My group made a fully functioning app and website to hack the problem of the difficulty of obtaining health records. It was my first time doing something so fun and interesting with so many new friends. Definitely a memorable experience!
– Ariba, grade 11
I really enjoyed the hackathon because it taught me great communication and problem solving skills that we need daily. I showed me that they are a lot of problems in the world—and as one of our guest speakers said “Girls are the Future”. This has motivated me to do something in the future. My favourite part was learning about HTML and CSS and how to make a website through it. I also liked learning about the differences between user interface and experience.
– Nishta, Teen Hackathon attendee
During the hackathon I was introduced to MIT App inventor, and it was my first time making an app which was exciting! The process of creating the app was my favourite part because I love problem-solving. I learned a lot from the UI/UX presentations that made me realize how much research goes into the process of creating the best possible user experience. After this hackathon, I felt motivated from seeing all the other awesome apps my friends made and am excited to create more apps and websites using the knowledge I gained this past weekend.
– Kisharne, grade 11
One of my favourite Teen Club events is by far is the Teen Club Hackathon. There were so many new faces which was awesome and I hope to see the girls again at future Teen Club events! The speakers were amazing, and I learned so many new things, especially UX Design —which is something I’m interested in. We got to tackle problems we face every day and use design thinking strategies to develop a solution. It was so empowering spending a weekend full of girls interested in technology! I can’t wait for the next hackathon!
– Mathurah, grade 11
Leaving inspired by the next generation of women in tech
At the end of the weekend, teens presented their ideas and provided a live demonstration of their applications during Demo Day. Watching their presentations, it was hard not to feel moved. These teens were given free reign on which problems to focus on, and what products to build. They were told they could build anything—but they chose to spend their weekend focusing on complex, important problems that affect women, young people, newcomers, and the homeless.
If the kindness and curiosity displayed by these teens is what the next generation of women has in store for the technology industry, then we are in good hands.
I am feeling hopeful.
Our Teens Learning Code program is open to female-identifying and non-binary youth between the ages of 13 and 17. Our program offers free opportunities for teens to gain coding skills, make friends, and explore careers in technology through industry events like this one! Check out some of our upcoming events and workshops at our Teens Learning Code program page.