Elizabeth Thacker and Kian Chakamian, both 7th graders at Rhoades, participated in Smart City Saturday Teen Only Hackathon on Saturday, April 21.
The Hackathon is a one-day event where 50 local teens utilize design thinking to hack their city’s greatest challenges, then pitch solutions to city officials, CEOs, educators, and entrepreneurs. Teams have expert coaches helping them throughout the day.
This was the second time that Elizabeth and Kian participated in the Hackathon. In January, the two Rhoades students were team members but this time around, they were on different teams. Kian’s team tackled the question “How do we get citizens to use different forms of transportation?” while Elizabeth’s team focused on “How do we keep homeless youth in school and on track to attend college or get a trade?” Other topics were distracted driving, litter prevention, engaging youth in public service, and educating citizens on the homeless population.
Both teens learned of the event from Mrs. Schramm, 7th grade Literature teacher, who dispersed flyers to her students.
Kian reported that participating in the event was a huge confidence booster for him. “The Hackathon took place a few days before the State Science Fair. After speaking to a panel of 20 judges, I felt really comfortable presenting there.” Elizabeth echoed Kian’s comments, saying, “We learned about problems all around us, and that’s really beneficial for youth today. We got to speak to experts who helped us not only understand the problems, but also helped us build on our skills like public speaking.”
Elizabeth’s team won 3rd place in the April competition. Smart City made the pitch videos available to the public – Kian’s group is first, and Elizabeth’s can be seen at the 31:18 mark. Both Elizabeth and Kian plan to apply for future Hackathons and hope to recruit other Rhoades students as well.