(Image courtesy of Alyssa S. Ho)
California School of the Arts

All-girls hackathon provides awareness for mental health

Since the beginning of the California school shut down in March, Alyssa S. Ho, a junior at California School of Arts, decided to create her own opportunities while all school events and STEM competitions got cancelled. 

She reached out to her Stanford AI4All friends from the summer before and formed Full Steam Ahead, a team of six aspiring programmers and designers, ages 14-16 years old from California, New Jersey and Sweden. They wanted to connect girls to STEM with an app, but with the continued mandate on social distancing, Ho directed her team to host their first all-girls international hackathon instead. 

The 48 hours Hackathon occurred on the weekend of Nov. 13, 2020, giving 100 participants among 24 teams from 11 countries time to create their projects. Participants worked in teams of two to tackle a problem that they were personally passionate about. There were also links to tutorials on how to use Figma and Thunkable for those who didn’t know how to use it.

Using the 3 options: Paper prototype, Figma prototype, or Thunkable prototype, teams would present them to the judges. Figma is a collaborative interface design tool for designers to bring interactivity into their prototype. Thunkable is a drag and drop block coding app builder for Android and iOS.

The main theme/challenge is Mental Health. It was chosen by Ho and her team because mental health is an urgent concern during COVID-19, especially with teenagers and their inability to cope with social distancing. Once the participant teams have finished their prototype, they must make sure it is an actual app, with functional buttons and designs. The judges would look at the slides presentation and judge the app and solution on a rubric with a scale from 1 to 5.

“Over 90% of the participants would want to continue their app after this Hackathon from the survey we had them do after the award ceremony,” Alyssa S. Ho said.

Here are the results, courtesy of the organizers:

Winning project descriptions

1st Place● Project Name: ● Team members:○ Caren Chua (Temple City High School, 12th grade)○ Katherin Tan (Temple City High School, 12th grade) ● Project description:  a game that helps trauma survivors, and builds empathy. 

2nd Place● Project Name: ● Team members:Leen Sabbah (Jordan)○ Selen Qarajeh (Jordan) ● Project description: A virtual, interactive monster pet with camera and capture actions. 

3rd Place● Project Name: ● Team members:Rishi Boddu (?)○ Amanda Chen (?) ● Project description: An app to help students transition from high school to college

Honorable Mention● Project Name: ● Team members:Krystal Yan (?)○ Lavanya Gupta (?) ○ Samya Potlapalli (?) ● Project description: Use of smartwatch to detect signs of stress, then app recommending exercises. 


Event sponsors included NCWIT AspireIT, AI4ALL and Everybody Code Now!