Grant approved: October 2013
Program Update: October 2014
A grant of $30,000 will expand the work of the Center for Innovation through a new initiative and take it public by enlisting teachers, students, parents and other community members to work on innovative computer projects. HackScarsdale will be modelled after similar initiatives now underway and growing quickly at many colleges and universities (e.g. HackPrinceton, HackYale.) These programs reflect a growing interest in entrepreneurship and the fact that introductory programming, design and Web development are important skills in today’s economy.
The rapid growth of Hack programs reflects the belief that many of our graduates will ultimately “create” jobs for themselves rather than “finding” them in the traditional way. To encourage initiative and creativity, HackScarsdale will provide resources, offer hands-on experience and create a community for students to extend their computer education beyond the classroom. An additional educational component of Hack programs is peer learning. “Competitions” are part of the collaborative learning experience – with students sharing programs and codes, as well as new ideas and challenges.
The budget will provide teacher stipends, materials and consultants, as well as funds to organize a public event once the students’ work on digital projects is well underway. High School Principal Ken Bonamo supports this initiative and is committed to engaging computer teachers and other faculty with demonstrated proficiency to lead the project.
HackScarsdale activities will begin in Fall 2013 as a club project, involving teachers and students working as teams on a range of digital projects. The program will culminate in a community-wide event to showcase students’ work and invite wider participation. The event will include workshops led by Scarsdale students demonstrating Hack projects, feature invited speakers on educational innovation and seek the participation of SHS alumni who are involved in Hack programs at the university level.
Given the innovative nature of the projects that will be conceived through HackScarsdale, we cannot predict what our students, alumni and community members will come up with. But the range of projects at college-level Hack programs may be indicative. A popular pattern that has emerged involves apps that provide services to campus and community. At Yale, a new app coordinates intramural schedules and another matches lost and found items. Among other services developed through Hack programs is an app at Harvard to help children with autism improve their ability to recognize facial expressions and another at Yale for friends to view, organize and share photos. The fields our high school students are already working in suggest a myriad of other possibilities – such as apps to expand and improve the online content of student publications, or for high school science classes to collect, share and analyze data. As a student-led program, however, the choices of projects will remain with the students.
HackScarsdale has the support of administrators and teachers, who are eager to assist our students to invent new uses for technology. Given the rapid growth of Hack programs on campuses across the nation, we are excited to see what our own students come up with and how they may benefit from a uniquely engaging, hands-on experience of working with fellow students, teachers and community members who can bring professional experience and technological expertise to the program.