On Sunday, May 3, nine Concord Academy computer programmers attended a virtual hackathon hosted by Middlesex School, joined by teams from Groton School, Milton Academy, and St. George’s School. Hackathons invite coders to form teams and spend the day on a software project, often intended to solve a real-world problem. The goal of this hackathon was to help people cope with social distancing and isolation during the Covid-19 lockdown.
CA students formed two teams, the first made up of 9th graders who called themselves COVID Trust (Jay Talwar ’23, Nathan Dang ’23, John Oh ’23, and Sam Lu ’23) and the second of 11th and 12th graders, called the Chameleons (Ronit Sinha ’20, Rachel Hu ’21, Caspian Ahlberg ’21, Alex Lee ’21, and Nuo Wen Lei ’22). The day began at 10 a.m. EDT with an hourlong keynote address and Q&A by Dr. Ian Lane Davis, the president of Rockstar New England, a studio within Rockstar Games, a video game company founded in 1998 that now has more than 2,000 employees. Then the teams went off to work on their projects, with a deadline for submitting them by 5 p.m. EDT, when they returned to a virtual meeting where all teams presented their work. A panel of judges then reviewed the submitted projects and code, and the team’s presentation, to recognize three teams: one for best solution to a general world problem, one for best overall prototype, and one for “most useful product for living in a world with physical distancing/self-isolation.”
Both CA teams came up with great ideas and implemented high-level solutions to their chosen problem, but it was the 9th graders who were ultimately recognized in the third category, a program that helps people who are distancing during the pandemic. Their idea was a mobile app that uses the location sensor on the phone to warn people when they’re entering high-risk areas, according to published records of Covid-19 cases. They presented a prototype designed with MIT’s App Inventor that divided Massachusetts into regions based on the number of infections there, and then warned the user if they were entering a high-risk region. The other team took on an equally ambitious project, to design a website that pairs restaurants with leftover food supplies with shelters that need it.
It was a great day of coding, collaboration, and compassion hosted by our friends at Middlesex!