We celebrated Hackergal’s 11th National Hackathon this year, inspiring over 700 girls and girl-identified learners across Canada to explore the endless possibilities in code through a week-long virtual event!
What is a Hackergal Hackathon? A Hackathon is an exciting event, typically lasting several hours, that brings computer programmers together to participate in a time-sensitive challenge. The Hackergal Hackathon captures this concept, inviting girls in grades 6-9 across Canada to code a visual story or interactive game connected to a social impact theme. By applying their learning and personal interests to the surprise theme, girls support and encourage each other, bringing their ideas and coding skills to the next level! Students coded projects using Hackergal’s customized coding curriculum on Hackergal Hub, our free online learning portal. We invited our Hackergals to code a project that reflects what community means to them and the small steps they can take to make a BIG change. Hackergal recognizes that having a sense of community embraces spirit, character, image and pride and is a vital element in helping us close the gender gap in technology. Even though coding is often considered a lone career, learning to code is a collaborative effort; it connects people, facilitates shared learning, and can make you feel like you are part of something greater. This year’s Hackathon consisted of 6 virtual events which included a Hackathon Launch Party, Hackergal’s famous Tech Trivia Adventure where girls put their technology knowledge to the test for a chance to win awesome prizes, and concluded with the Hackathon Project Party!
Kicking off our Hackathon was the Launch Party where we introduced this year’s theme and mission: Making BIG Change through Community. Hackergal Ambassador, Samia H., summed up what our Hackergal programs are all about: “The Hackergal community can be compared to a code: Components that come together to create a program”. The spirit of this quote was felt by the Hackergals across Canada, as the Hackathon went live in different school communities across the nation, including Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, B.C., Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Manitoba. Mrs. Garrioch, a grade 8 technology teacher at St. Mary’s School in Saskatchewan, led a coding club for 4 weeks with 4 girls in preparation for this year’s Hackathon. She also participated as a live community presenter during the Hackathon Launch Party, showcasing the excitement and hard work her students put into the Hackathon. Her girls got to share the amazing projects they created in coding, such as clean cooling and bus trackers. They were so proud to represent their province at the Hackergal Hackathon and called themselves the ‘Saskatchewan Hackergals’!
The Hackathon offered 3 live coding and design workshops for girls to choose from in English and French. Each of the coding workshops provided coding and design tips and tricks using free online tools to help girls make their projects as unique as possible! Stephanie Beeforth, a teacher from EJ James Public School in Ontario shared that the Sneaky Code Workshop really inspired the girls in her school and they were actively engrossed in all the activities.
“Hackergal’s Hackathon has impacted me in a positive way. It has shown me that coding isn’t just letters or numbers but also helping others,” said Anna S., grade 7 Hackathon participant.
We heard from inspirational technology leaders like Melany Bailette, UX/Product Lead at Intelliware, and Isabelle Bisonnette, Vice President of Business Architecture in Technology Infrastructure and Innovation at CIBC, as they shared what it means to be a woman in the field of tech and how by building and participating in these communities, we can all help to break down barriers. Melany said, “A community is not only something that embraces who you are but supports you in your journey”. Hackergal not only offers the resources and programming to succeed in coding, but the community itself offers the support and friendship that is key to feeling included. Isabelle also discussed the importance of Hackergal’s mission in “balancing the job market” when it comes to gender equality.
The Hackathon brought together the idea of breaking barriers while also creating a positive and supportive community within the coding and tech world. Our girls were inspired by Canadian women in tech from notable industry leaders like CIBC, CSE, Google, Sago Mini, and Shaw. Being together helps us to remember that you are never alone; you are part of a supportive and strong group of women and girls who cheer each other on!
Did you miss the Hackathon? No problem! You can still celebrate the inspirational week by watching some of our favourite moments. Stay tuned on social media for details about Hackergal Day taking place in December 2022, a virtual event you won’t want to miss!