AcornHack 2-day hackathon to encourage entrepreneurship - where teenage girls will be inspired to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology, as well as attend masterclass workshops from digital marketing to APIs. The aim of this event is to give young women the basic tools that will enable them to make a more informed decisions.
I found out about this event from @EChesters when she shared a link to AcornHackGirls in @WHFNP Slack chat. Reading through the aim of the event and seeing the Mentors and Judges list, I really felt I wanted to be part of this and I could help make a difference. With this in mind, I contacted the founder @elena_sinel of AcornAspirations who was putting together the day. Unfortunately, the initial response I got was not the one I wanted, that it was a women’s only event, however, I completely understood. My wife and I decided that weekend we would go to Portugal to see her family and we even booked the trip. In the meantime, @elena_sinel had been doing a little research and realised that I am proactive in the Tech Diversity space. Shortly after @elena_sinel contacted me and said I would be welcome at the event as long as I did not mind being the only man there - this is not an issue for me…as someone pointed out to me recently, I do not see gender or race, I just see GitHub and Open Source Code. Now I had the task of convincing my wife, but this was much easier than I thought. Sara was happy to go alone - she understood what a great opportunity this was, plus she would turn it into a ‘girly weekend’ with her mum. The difficult part was organising the trip for one - updating flights, cancel parking at the airport and arranging taxis etc. Once this was done I started executing my plans to help the event. For example create the AcornHack on GitHub Organisation for AcornHack, my thinking here was to keep all projects Open Source and in one place so that these can be easily located and worked on going forwards.
The day finally arrived! I was up super early and keen to make a difference. One of my goals was to get everyone on GitHub, even if they were not coding as they can contribute in other ways. Also to create each team with their Project Repository, this would allow them to not only collaborate on the code but also to keep their ideas and notes/sketches etc in one place.
Idea pitches by the teens were very impressive and they showed some novel ideas that could be used in the real world. The rest of the weekend would challenge them and their ideas to make sure these were thoroughly thought out, presented well and with a prototype. Also to see teams of 1 through to 5 work together and independently was super impressive. There was great energy and a real desire to bring their ideas to life. In addition to improving and building their ideas, the teens had the opportunity to participate various workshops from UX, to marketing, to coding. There was definitely a lot going on and enough to keep everyone busy. Not to mention there was also table tennis and a putting green!
Up even earlier to review the great work that had happened yesterday and see which teams needed a bit of extra encouragement. More workshops today; the teens were full of beans and keen to get going. Projects came together well and the mentors really helped with the final push. The presentations by the teens were great - some were nervous understandably, but once they got started they were excellent. The prizes were crazy good! Most of these I would have liked for myself- that’s the kid in me getting excited.
Looking back at the event, the teens did better than I ever could at their age, they really powered through and delivered. I wish I had similar events at their age to allow me to challenge my ideas and push my skills forward. However, it is never too late - I learnt so much at the weekend, from the mentors and the teens. I made some excellent connections with the other mentors and I look forward to seeing them at other events and hopefully working with them too. I do just have one question though; where are all these amazing people when I am building a team for a project?
Eddie has been programming for over a decade and has consulted for organisations in the financial, governmental and private sectors. Outside of his consultancy role Eddie enjoys attending and contributing to hackathons and conferences around the world which deal with a variety of technical and social issues. His first foray into the realm of Women's issues was EmpowerHack's "Empowering women and girl refugees" hackathon. Since then Eddie has contributed to EmpowerHack's Open Source projects from a technical perspective and has also brought his expertise and infectious enthusiasm to actively support the growth of women in tech at WHFNP and AcornAspirations. He has been likened to Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory" with marginally more social skills. Jaoude Studios Ltd Connect with Eddie Jaoude on Twitter or LinkedIn.