In a world where everything seems virtual, a group of Wayland students held a hackathon on over the weekend to help improve online learning, with ideas contributed from kids around the globe.
With the mission set to make remote learning easier, more than 80 high school and middle school students competed virtually in Project Reboot, which started Friday night and ended Saturday night.
From their homes across the country and as far away as India, they built websites and apps to solve issues that they are faced with every day in school.
“I thought that this thing would be more relatable for a lot of students because they’re going through remote learning and I think students themselves know like, ‘Hey this is what I would like to see done differently, and you know this is what I’ll do,’” said Andrew Boyer, president of Wayland High School’s Computer Science Club, which organized the event.
More than 20 teams of students worked on projects that tackled key issues, such as scheduling classes over the Internet. Some looked at the issue of students not having their cameras turned on in class, and another even made a bot that will attend class for you — for those who tend to be tardy.
First place went to a group from Cambridge and Boston for their tool to help teachers summarize their online classes, second went to a group from California and New Jersey for their note taking software, and third went to a group from California for their interactive learning software.
The hackathon started Friday night, with many participants working all night long. Submissions were accepted up until 5 p.m. Saturday.
“Some people stayed up all night to work on it, and I mean it definitely shows with how much people got done,” said Boyer, a junior at Wayland High.
While the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to be held online, the group has also held an in-person hackathon in 2019 that focused on developing programs and software to help people with disabilities.
One of those talks, led by Jackie Herrera, a social worker with Family Access of Newton, looked at the social inequities of remote learning and how certain families don’t have access to the tools needed.
Boyer said her talk, which focused on Latino families, touched on how some students don’t have access to laptops for remote learning. With money left over from this year’s hackathon, the group is thinking about buying parts to build computers for families in need, Boyer said.
And while the group is still trying to figure out how to meet in-person, Boyer said the group wants to continue holding hackathons and other tech events that go beyond coding.
“We want to keep doing projects that help people,” he said.