The Jugend Hackt Nord hackathon weekend for youngsters

Last weekend, some hacking took place – and northern Germany was hit. From Friday to Sunday, the betahaus in Hamburg was home to the Jugend Hackt Hamburg (youngsters’ hackathon) event, which I attended as a mentor for the third time.

What is Jugend Hackt?

Jugend Hackt is a major hackathon event at which youngsters aged between 12 and 18 work on a variety of ideas for projects in different groups. With the motto of “improve the world with code”, the youngsters can put their ideas into practice over the course of an entire weekend. This year, approximately 50 young computer enthusiasts worked on topics ranging from cleaning up the oceans to anonymizing water marks of laser printers.

Every year, I am amazed about the youngsters’ clever ideas and the confidence with which they approach topics that are socially relevant. As in previous years, on Sunday, stunning projects were presented that you wouldn’t have dreamt possible on Friday.

This is an example of promoting young talents which has proven very popular. The Jugend Hackt events have been taking place in many regions of Germany as well as Austria and Switzerland. In 2016, Jugend Hackt was awarded the German Engagement Award in the category of Strengthening Democracy.

How does Jugend Hackt work?

The official start was on Friday afternoon at around 4 pm. Once everyone had arrived and the organisational arrangements had been ticked off, things got under way. In addition to a presentation of the Hacker Ethics which was followed by a discussion, there was also a brainstorming session at which many ideas for projects were gathered.

Fortified by a shared evening meal, they got to work. The first ideas were implemented with the hackathon continuing into the night, before it was finally time to head to the hostel for some sleep.

Saturday started with a shared breakfast. The youngsters then made their way into groups with the goal of implementing the coolest ideas from the brainstorming session. The key technical questions were then discussed with the mentors and the hackathon got under way again, continuing until late into the night – with short breaks over lunchtime and in the evening.

On Sunday, the finishing touches were made and all of the projects were presented. Results are available on github and hackdash.

It’s great being a mentor…

As mentors, we supported the youngsters with the problem solving. All in all there were around 20 of us, which ultimately meant that there was approximately one mentor for two youngsters. Things went really well, because above all, youngsters successfully grappled with several solutions on their own.

I also worked as a “mentor-mentor”, in which I helped other mentors out with their work with youngsters and built a bridge with the organisers.

As you can see on the photo such a weekend with “Jugend Hackt” is quite exhausting. Nonetheless, I am really happy to support youngsters in the area of technology / software development.

Summary

As in previous years, it was just a superb weekend.

Last year there was a jury in Hamburg and an award ceremony.  This year we handed out badges for especially creative ideas, particularly good code or excellent team work. The awarding of badges – like “Achievements” known from computer games – has now been tried and tested at Jugend Hackt events in other regions, and personally, I like this approach better.

In addition, there is also a series of events which are similar to Jugend Hackt, for example, Devoxx4Kids or Kids4IT. It is almost always possible to get involved as a mentor. So, what are you waiting for?

To gain a couple of insights you can check github and hackdash. Stay informed using #jugendhackt or follow @jhackthamburg on twitter. A recording will be also available soon.

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Oliver Milke
Software Development
Olli has been passionate about coding for over a decade. His focus is on Java-Backend-Development and he also enjoys thinking out of the box. Additionally he is Co-Lead of the local JUG-Ostfalen.