*Items in this post have been gifted to us, however all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own*
I’m not sure if it’s my age and the fact that I’m not ‘down with the kids’ , but I hadn’t heard of the term Hackathon before I received an email from Plusnet challenging us to take part. So firstly for those who like me have absolutely no clue let me explain…
What is a Hackathon?
“A hackathon is where individuals or groups acknowledge a problem and work on building and creating a solution. This is usually done digitally using computer coding, however can be done using other methods for example art, writing or designing.”
Plusnet are currently working alongside the Scouts here in the UK whom they challenged to help tackle six issues that young people have highlighted as important to them. The Scouts have partnered with various charities for this campaign:
- Protecting the environment (WWF)
- Ending homelessness (Crisis)
- Supporting refugees and displaced children (Save The Children)
- Better mental health for all (MIND)
- Understanding disability (National Autistic Society)
- Kindness in every community (British Red Cross)
Inspired by the Scouts success and determination we decided to give it a go for ourselves with the help of Plusnet’s Hack At Home Pack which is filled with heaps of handy tips and ideas. We were also kindly gifted a Kano Computer Kit* to help us complete our task. Here’s how we got on…
Coding is something I knew nothing about, but luckily for me the children quickly informed me that they learn about it at school – who knew? The Kano Computer Kit we received arrived deconstructed and required us to firstly build our very own computer, which looked daunting at first glance but was a breeze thanks to the easy to understand instructions and diagrams.
The computer itself is very small and compact, comprising of the computers ‘brain’ and a small wireless keyboard. To use you simply plug the ‘brain’ into either your computer or TV and the computer talks you through each stage of the set up – perfect for technophobe parents!
It’s already in built with numerous apps including Minecraft Hack which of course my little man was immediately drawn to! Each app takes you through a step by step guide using simple, easy to understand instructions showing you how to operate different operations using code. It took a little while for me to get the hang of it, but the kids were playing straight away and were very excited to see the programme Scratch which they use in school.
We chatted for a long time about the problem we would like to solve and eventually decided that we would like create something to plant trees. Having been discussing with the youngest recently about how important trees are for the Earth we decided finding a way to quickly and efficiently plant trees which would help alleviate the current pressure on the environment. We were inspired in particular by the recent news that Deforested parts of the Amazon Rain Forest are now actually producing more carbon dioxide than they absorb, which is simply heartbreaking for our planet.
Together we agreed to design a robot that is able to plant trees anywhere, be it the town or countryside with the help of specially adapted tools to make the job quick and easy. By creating a robot to do the job of a human we hope our design would mean the number of trees able to be planted would increase significantly.
Our robot could be used to plant anything – not just trees – and we think it would be an amazing tool for local councils to help them improve the environment as well as make the surrounding aesthetically pleasing for everyone.
The kids took on the task of designing our robot using one of the coding apps on the computer as to be honest they were a LOT faster at it than I could ever dream of being! Here are the wonderful designs they created.
Our ideas and designs are reasonably simple as I wanted to make sure our goal was achievable for my youngest who is only six, however with a little more time and coding experience I’m sure we could come up with many more ideas! We loved taking part in the Hackathon and have continued to use the Kano computer to learn and improve our coding skills. Judging by what I have learnt taking part in this challenge coding is such an important skill for children and it certainly seems it may be the key to helping solve at least some of the problems we are experiencing now and those that will appear in the future.
Do you or your children have any experience of coding? Have you ever taken part in a Hackathon? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.