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No experience was necessary to participate in Toms River's first large-scale hackathon, but many who did are TRRS students enrolled in courses that have increased their interest in and capacity for coding and problem-based learning.
2020 do over imagine that you could reboot the past 9 months

Nov. 23, 2020-- Secondary students from across Toms River Regional Schools and up and down the state gathered virtually this past weekend for the first large-scale Hackathon, a virtual event made possible through the TR:TechReady program funded by the Office of Naval Research.

During the Friday afternoon kickoff, students were told to put on their hindsight glasses for a 2020 Do-Over! Imagine that you could reboot the past 9 months. It’s January 1, 2020. Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently to help your family, community, or humankind? Students were challenged to set realistic, significant and effective goals for their solution.

Although no experience was necessary, many participants had already participated in the six-week Hack:TR BootCamp in Robotics, Python, Unity, HTML5, CSS, Javascript, Scratch, and MIT App Inventor, and/or are students in our Career Academies and enrolled in engineering, computer science, or multimedia courses.

A helpline was available each day from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., around the clock, facilitated by students from TEAM, led by Senior in Charge, Svar Shah, to connect with experts on a Google Meet. Kickstart workshops were offered in each of the program languages. NAVAIR volunteers led by Kipsy Quevada, Gaetan Mangano, and Haidi Oliviera, as well as experts in coding, careers and cybersecurity Kayla Pollock, Ryan O’Shea, Ryan Naecker, and Andrew Petti ran workshops, provided support throughout the coding BootCamp and served as extraordinary thought partners and planners helping to bring the whole event to fruition.

Tech experts, partner organizations, and district support combined to expand the reach of the event and increase the opportunities it offered. TR:TechReady Principal Investigator and TRRS Supervisor of Educational Technology Tiffany Lucey also recruited the insights and sponsorship of Dr. Marc Natanagara of Authentic Learning, LLC. Other event partners included representatives from the Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Institute and local business Code Ninjas. District support was provided by Assistant Superintendent Cara DiMeo; technology facilitation and remote access was provided by Technology Director Jay Attiya; web design and tech support was courtesy of network managers Jim Phillips and Matt Lametta, respectively. Media specialists and career, tech and life skills instructors from across the district also provided expertise as well as supplies, with schools distributing advanced technology tools like robots and microcontrollers to event participants.

Prizes were awarded to the following:

High School First Place: Jena Bhandari and Shaishavi Patel; $75 Amazon gift card each from NAVAIR

High School Second Place: Jaun Carlos Ugarte; $50 Amazon gift card from NAVAIR

High School Third Place: Princess Mazano and Dan Bagsic; $25 Amazon gift card each from NAVAIR

Intermediate School First Place: Samantha Hughes; Sphero BB8 Robot from ONR TR:TechReady grant

Intermediate School Second Place: Hunter Petruska; MBot Ranger Robot from ONR TR:TechReady grant

Intermediate School Third Place: Eleonora Degnan Circuit Scribe and Abigail Duane; VR Goggles from ONR TR:TechReady grant

Outstanding BootCamp Contributors: Jessica Wycoff and Decrease Engagement; $20 Amazon gift cards each from, Dr. Marc Natanagara

Most Thoughtful Hack: Katelyn Culbert; $20 Amazon gift cards from, Dr. Marc Natanagara

Judges' award for presentation and insights into the topic: Rebecca Foytlin; $20 Amazon gift cards from, Dr. Marc Natanagara

Student submissions can be viewed here.