Hacking in the Classroom

Type: News

HackathonsGame Jams, and the other incarnations of rapid prototyping-style events have been popular at companies around the world. These events create a highly collaborative atmosphere, inspiring participants to create assemble prototypes based on a theme . The limited amount of time participants have to work on their product means that decisions need to be made quickly and implemented immediately. We love hackathons, which got us thinking, how can we use the aspects of a hackathon in the classroom to create a similar atmosphere?


We planned for our first prototype of adapting the hackathon model to the classroom to occur over the course of one week. We contemplated only allowing students to work on their projects during class but after discussing it with them decided against it. Students can work independently or form their own teams. The theme the students would have to follow would be given to us by a random word generator.

Fast forward to this week, at the front of the room in big letters the word Affection was displayed on a screen. This is the theme randomly chosen for one section of the Creative Coding class. The other section was given the word “Shelf” as their theme.

“How do you even make a program for that?!?” exclaimed one student, but after 10-15 minutes of ideating, every student was developing a project. Titles ranged from “Shelf Sumos” to “Librarian Simulator” and one student is working on a game where the player plays as a piece of pizza trying to avoid being eaten by a gang of pizza lovers.

The challenge of creating something using things that seem completely unrelated often leads to innovation. It may seem weird or impossible at first, but so did the ability to talk to someone on the other side of the world or buy an item without seeing it in person. We’re looking forward to seeing the other takeaways our students have with this activity. Stay tuned.