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Students Hack Against High Schoolers & Teach a Robotics Course

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Congratulations to Sophia & Joon on winning second place in the Innovator hackathon at the Santa Cruz Teen Entrepreneur Challenge We are proud to share that two of our students, Sophia and Joon, won second place in the Innovator hackathon at the Santa Cruz Teen Entrepreneur Challenge (SCTECH). The girls are in Independence Level 5 and are 12 and 14 years old. They opted to participate in the hackathon as part of their self-led passion projects on coding and robotics.

Competing against high school students, the dynamic duo designed and presented a website they created called "Share-A-Lunch." Their site calls attention to child hunger in the U.S. and makes it possible for consumers to order lunch for themselves and buy a lunch for a kid in need.

The Innovator Challenge

"Every step forward in technology is brought on by being courageous and taking on a seemingly impossible task, a challenging problem, or a crazy idea," the competition states. "Here at SCTECH, we want to turn those gears of innovation and see what you can do to push the boundaries of technology."

Students were required to code a demonstrable product developed solely during the one-day hackathon. Each team's product was judged based on the following criteria:

Novelty: Is the approach or solution novel? Does it substantially depart from similar products? 

Impact/Potential: How much does an individual benefit from this hack? How many people will benefit from the hack?

Design/User Interface: Is the product nice to use? How good is the UI/UX? Is usage self-apparent, or do you need a manual?

Technical Merit: How difficult was this hack to build? Was a particularly difficult design challenge met? How polished is the hack? How complete is the hack, as presented? What work was actually accomplished as opposed to what was envisioned?

Teaching Robotics at the Local Library

Students will be teaching a free robotics course at the local library Sophia and Joon are continuing their passion project throughout the year and have decided to teach a free robotics course at the Mountain View Public Library in order to further their learning and help others. Along with three of their classmates, Anjeli (13), Robert (13), and Adam (10), they will be leading a four-week class for children ages 9 to 14. The free course is an initiative of an organization Sophia is founding called "Robonauts."

"I am the founder of Robonauts, and our aim is to teach students robotics and programming for free," says Sophia, who was inspired by the mission of Khan Academy.

"Our vision is to get kids teaching kids of all backgrounds by making STEM education fun and free. STEM skills are important for solving hard & important problems," the students said, in a presentation they prepared for Mountain View Public Library's Youth Programs. "Jobs of the future will require this skill, but robotics education is not available to all kids and there is a lack of gender and ethnic diversity."

The students intend to teach students at the library how to use LEGO Mindstorms – beginner software and hardware for programmable robots – and VEX EDR, a robotics platform for middle school to college level students.

The students also hope to spark conversations about artificial intelligence (AI) and the affect it will have on the workforce as they grow up.

"We are constantly trying to do more with less time," wrote Sophia, in a research paper she is completing as part of her personalized goals at KLS. "Waze and Google Maps have revolutionized traffic and timing our journey to our destinations... Self-driving cars will soon help us multitask further. You may argue that Artificial Intelligence is stealing our jobs, but I believe we will use AI to create better opportunities and create new industries. Yes, AI may take some of our jobs, but it has limitations."


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