Menlo School is hosting MenloHacks this weekend

by Contributed Content on April 16, 2016

Menlo School students are hosting a 24-hour hackathon this weekend in the Athletic Center. Dubbed MenloHacks, the event brings together about 250 high school students to build anything pertaining to software or hardware.

Menlo Hacks_vertMenloHacks encourages students of all experience levels to collaborate to create apps, websites, and other code-based projects. The event also features games, such as a Tapé — a contest to see if anyone is able to maneuver a roll of tape into the student center — and a Smash Bros. tournament, as well as several workshops and opportunities to work with mentors.

While there are awards and prizes, the focus of a hackathon isn’t just to create something, it’s also to learn. Hackathons provide the opportunity to experiment with new technology and even learn to code from scratch.

MenloHacks co-directors, senior John Reinstra and junior Jason Scharff, came up with the idea for the hackathon while participating in another event across the country this past fall.

“We realized at PennApps that hosting a hackathon at Menlo School could be a great, fun way to promote STEM /Computer Science at Menlo, and we decided to immediately begin preparations,” said John.

Menlo Hacks_girl hacker

In the weeks following, the students consulted with adviser and computer science teacher Dennis Yeh, and worked to make arrangements for facility use, liability, chaperones, and judges. The team also had to secure sponsorships to make the hackathon a free event. MenloHacks sponsors include Palantir, Doughbies, Entefy, Hint, Jet Brains, MIT Launch, Name Cheap, Prado SV, SOMA Central, and Ultra Press.

Yeh said the goal of MenloHacks is for all participants to have the opportunity to interact and connect with technology experts and professionals and with each other.

“Beginners can discover technology and what it enables them to create,” he said. “Intermediates can gain the experience of developing a more substantial project. Advanced participants can use this as an opportunity to add to their portfolio and get their name out there so more opportunities come their way.”

On Sunday, projects will be judged by a panel comprised of tech industry workers and will be assigned a score based on technical difficulty, creativity, and real-world application. The judges include Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO; Scott Forstall, former Apple SVP of IOS; Marc Bodnick, Quora head of business; and Brienne Ghafourifar, Entefy co-founder.

Photos by Linda Hubbard (c) 2016

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