The First-Timers' Hackathon

The First-Timers’ Hackathon Model: Key Highlights

  • Purpose: Designed specifically for beginners in the tech realm.
  • Supportive Environment: Prioritizes a welcoming atmosphere for first-time participants.
  • Emphasis on Learning: Focuses on education and experience rather than competition.
  • Inclusivity: Ensures every participant, regardless of prior knowledge, feels valued and included.
  • Pre-Hackathon Workshops: Offers training sessions leading up to the hackathon for skill-building.
  • Mentorship: Experienced guides are on hand to assist and inspire participants.
  • Approachable Challenges: Tailored tasks that cater to beginners, ensuring achievable goals.

The Need for the Model

  • Overcoming Intimidation: Traditional hackathons can seem daunting to newcomers.
  • Addressing Skill Gaps: Provides a stepping stone for those hesitant about entering the tech world.
  • Building Confidence: Allows novices to experience collaborative tech events without intense pressure.
  • Fostering Community: Encourages a sense of belonging and unity among participants.
  • Diverse Participation: Emphasizes that the tech industry welcomes and values diverse contributions.

First-Timers’ Hackathon Model

1. Pre-Hackathon Workshops (1 week prior):

  • Introduction to Basic Coding: A session covering the basics of Python, HTML, CSS, or JavaScript.
  • Introduction to Tools: Platforms like GitHub, basic version control, and using online development environments.
  • Introduction to GPT (like ChatGPT): Using APIs to integrate GPT into basic applications.

2. Hackathon Timeline:

  • Day 1 Evening:
    • 6:00 PM: Kick-off: Introduction and presentation of hackathon themes/challenges.
    • 7:00 PM: Team Formation: Allow participants to pitch ideas and form teams.
    • 8:00 PM: Mentor Session: Mentors introduce themselves, and attendees can approach for guidance.
  • Day 2:
    • 9:00 AM: Coding Begins: Teams start brainstorming and coding.
    • 1:00 PM: Check-in: A brief meet-up to share progress, hurdles, and seek help.
    • 6:00 PM: Last Check-in: Final push before submission.
    • 8:00 PM: Submissions Close.
    • 9:00 PM: Presentations & Judging.
    • 10:00 PM: Award Ceremony.

3. Hackathon Themes/Ideas for Beginners with GPT Assistance:

  • Chatbot for Campus: A simple chatbot using GPT that answers frequently asked questions about the campus.
  • Daily Motivator: A tool that provides a motivational quote or advice, potentially personalized based on user inputs.
  • Homework Helper: A simple tool where students can ask questions related to basic subjects and get answers.
  • Local Guide: A chatbot that provides information about local attractions, food places, or other points of interest.

4. Mentoring System:

  • Dedicated Mentors: Experienced developers or TinkerHub members available for guidance.
  • GPT Assistance: Set up stations where participants can interact with ChatGPT or similar tools for project ideas or coding guidance.

5. Judging Criteria:

  • Innovation: How unique is the idea?
  • Usability: Can users easily understand and interact with the tool?
  • Implementation: How well has the idea been executed?
  • Impact: Does the project solve a real problem or improve users’ lives?
  • Team Collaboration: How well did the team work together?

6. Post-Hackathon:

  • Showcase: Host a campus event or online showcase to present the best projects.
  • Feedback Session: To improve the hackathon model for the next iteration.
  • Continuous Learning: Encourage participants to continue their tech journey, offering them resources, further workshops, or courses.

Remember, the goal is to make participants feel welcome, empowered, and inspired. The emphasis should be on learning and collaboration rather than competition.

The Importance of Attending an In-Person Hackathon for Aspiring Developers

In the digital age, where remote collaboration is becoming the norm, one might wonder about the relevance of in-person hackathons. Yet, there’s a unique essence to being physically present in a space filled with creativity, innovation, and palpable energy. For budding developers, attending at least one in-person hackathon can be a transformative experience, and here’s why:

  1. Human Connection: Digital platforms can offer connectivity, but in-person interactions create lasting bonds. Sharing a workspace, having face-to-face discussions, and simply being in the same room fosters a sense of camaraderie that’s hard to replicate online.
  2. Immersive Learning: Being physically present allows for instant feedback, quick pair programming sessions, or impromptu brainstorming on a whiteboard. This immersion fast-tracks learning and problem-solving.
  3. Experience the Energy: The atmosphere at a live hackathon is electric. The buzz, the sounds of keystrokes, the shared sighs of frustration, and the collective cheers of achievement create an environment of collective drive.
  4. Networking: Mingling during break times, sharing a meal, or having a casual chat can lead to meaningful professional relationships. Meeting industry experts, mentors, and fellow enthusiasts can open doors to collaborations, internships, or job opportunities.
  5. Holistic Development: Beyond coding, you learn to present ideas, negotiate with teammates, manage time, and think on your feet. These soft skills, often honed in real-world settings, are invaluable in any developer’s career.
  6. Tangible Results: There’s a unique satisfaction in converting an abstract idea into a working prototype in mere hours. Witnessing this journey, surrounded by peers, instills confidence and a belief in one’s capabilities.
  7. Stepping Out of Comfort Zones: Being in a new environment, with unfamiliar faces and challenges, pushes one to break boundaries, take risks, and innovate without the safety net of familiar surroundings.

In conclusion, while virtual hackathons have their merits and conveniences, there’s an irreplaceable charm and benefit to the traditional in-person format. For future developers, it’s a rite of passage that offers both personal and professional growth, creating memories and skills that last a lifetime.

Ice Breaker Sessions:

1. Introduction Circle:

  • Description: Participants stand in a circle. Each person introduces themselves by stating their name and one fun fact or something they’re passionate about.
  • Purpose: Helps attendees to get familiar with each other on a personal level.

2. Two Truths and a Lie:

  • Description: Each person states three things about themselves: two truths and one lie. The rest of the group tries to guess which one is the lie.
  • Purpose: A fun way to learn unexpected things about participants and initiate conversations.

3. “Speed Dating” Networking:

  • Description: Participants sit in two circles, one inside the other. Each person talks to the one opposite them for 2 minutes before the outer circle moves to the next person.
  • Purpose: Allows attendees to briefly get to know many different participants and find potential teammates.

4. “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) with Mentors:

  • Description: Before the hackathon coding session, have an AMA session where mentors introduce themselves and answer questions.
  • Purpose: This makes mentors approachable and gives participants a clearer idea of available expertise.

5. Sticky Note Questions:

  • Description: Give everyone a sticky note. Ask them to write down one thing they want to learn or a question they have about the hackathon. Collect and display them on a wall/board.
  • Purpose: Assists in understanding participants’ expectations and makes them feel their questions are valued. Mentors or organizers can then address these throughout the event.

6. Human Bingo:

  • Description: Create bingo cards with statements like “Has never coded before,” “Is a night owl,” “Loves Python,” etc. Participants have to mingle and find people who match the statements to get a bingo.
  • Purpose: Encourages participants to start conversations and find commonalities or differences in a playful manner.

Integrate these sessions after the kick-off and before the team formation on Day 1. This ensures that the participants get comfortable with each other, which will lead to better collaboration and a more positive experience overall. Remember to keep the atmosphere light and fun, emphasizing that there’s no such thing as a “silly” question, and everyone is there to learn and grow together.

What TinkerHub Can offer

  1. Minimal financial resources [ Food, stickers etc ]
  2. Program Model
  3. Mentors [ if needed from outside of the college, ideally it shouldn’t be ]

There could be few implimentation modes.

  1. Hackathon - Overnight program, where ever possible, we could think about covering the dinner expenses.

  2. HackDay - where an overnight program will be hard.

  3. Hostel / Online one where no other option is possible.