GA Tech Student Code for Good Hackathon - Live Blog

Thursday, September 27, 7:42AM PDT

Paul Steinberg Picture

Ok.  I am on the plane -got up at 3:30 AM - heading to Atlanta GA.

I'll be updating this in a timely fashion, look for lots of info, but it won't be terribly pretty. Do you want to contribute? Use the comments section below. Please let us hear from you!

The Hackathon is schedule to kick-off at Noon on Friday.  The task is to work with 25+ Georgia Tech College students to conceive of and build apps to help young people  understand nutriton and to combat childhoood obesity.  The student will have 32 hours of straight coding to get this task done.

 Intel will be providing food, the newest Intel processor-based Ultrabook™ systems and technical help thanks to HTML5 coding guru, Brad Hill.  Our host at Georgia Tech will be Professor Matthew Wolf.  We are lucky to have a great subject matter experts including Dan Marks, MD, PhD from OHSU  Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland Oregon.


And me?  Well, I'm the Student Program Community Manager.  What will I do?  The important things, that's what.  Among my pressing tasks & major decisions:

  • What kind of food should I buy for the students in  Atlanta?
  • Do we need colored hairspray???
  • What about silly hats?

Such are the tasks that face highly trained Intel Community Managers.

I was speaking with Dr. Jay Rosenbloom,a peditrican friend of mine, last night.  I told him of the event and that we had Dan Marks as subject matter expert.  He said that Dan, a well-known pediartric endocrinologist, was the exact right person for the job and an  exciting speaker to boot.   I am very anxious to hear him speak tomorrow.  This should be a great event!

Topics  thoughts

I mentioned that our task is to challenge childhood obesity, but how best to do that in context of an app?  In conversation with our subject matter experts a number ideas came up:

From Healthier Genrations -

 Are there technologies that solve similar problems?

Perhaps you’re inspired by a feature of another piece of technology such as an app on your phone, or an online service. Do you know of other technologies that solve similar problems, or solve a problem in a similar way to what you imagine?

Two apps that do some of the things that we think are important are Instagram* and WebMD*. 

Instagram - people can take photos, put them on a map and connect with others through images. In case of childhood obesity, they could take photos and/or map comments about their environment as it relates to access to healthy food and safe places for physical activity. 

WebMD* - similar to how WebMD identifies symptoms and treatments, we would like to offer questions about a person’s environment and help them identify solutions in their environment.

From Dr. Marks

1) the most important thing is to get people moving.  Hopefully walking, but at least moving.  Games that require and reward the kids to actually walk to move the character through the game would be great.

2) Nutrition that not only rates meals, but also allows them to have nutrition information in an understandable format, relevant to school lunches, would also be good.  The overwhelming majority of school foods in this country are provided by a single company, so this is do-able.  It does need to be fun, or kids won't do it.  You can also take advantage of the cameras that most cell phones have these days.  Is there any way to photograph a school lunch and cross reference it with the known inventory of the company supplying the food?  Could you have some kind of reference item of known shape and size that gets photographed with the food so that portion sizes can be estimated?

3) knowledge is power.  Kids that know where their food came from make better choices.  How many kids know, for example, that ketchup is mostly high fructose corn syrup?  Do they even know what a tomato is?

4) kids do in fact educate and pressure their parents in very meaningful ways. The question is how to build in motivation and reward on both sides.

5) is there any way to turn a standard phone into a pedometer?  Can you track how much a child moved so that appropriate rewards can be offered?

6) improving our ability to move through the built environment is key.

There are many map programs that calculate driving routes. Is it possible to calculate the best/safest walking or biking route?

What do you think?  What are your ideas?  Please enter them as comments below.
Thursday, September 27, 6:54 PM EDT
Long flight.  Now in Georgia with Professor Wolf.  Nice Barbeque dinnner and then to Publix* to stock up on food for the hackathon.  If I hadn't been so tired, I would have taken some great photos.
Paul & Matt Ultrabook Picture
The Ultrabooks have arrived.  Here are Matt and I making sure they sent us the right systems.  Yep,  We are ready for tomorrow.
Friday, September 28, 2:54 PM EDT
Team Pony
We kicked off at Noon. we have about 20+ students working.  Dr. Marks delivered with a very interesting talk on kids and nutriton.  Some eye openinmg statistcs -"we are the first generation of Americans that will have a shorter life-span than their parents," some fascinating, all useful.
We now have three teams:
The Ca Ne Fait Rien Team.   They are working on a nutrition game to get the family involved. 
Team Unknown - API framework to build games that leverager activity + a dashboard to monitor game play.  Points to buy in app purchases through activity.
Team Pony -Pet avatar game to teach nutritional concepts.  Avatar gains status when healthy choices are made. 
Both ça ne faire rien team and team Pony are considering utilizing the Team Unknown framework if possible.
We'll see what hapens during our first check-in.
Midnight EDT

Team Pony Midnight check-in


Team Nemo (ex-Team Uknown) Midnight check-in

Team ça ne fait rien Midnight check-in


Saturday, September 29, 3:00  AM EDT

Part of the art and science of a 32 hour hackathon is to find ways to keep things moving in the deep early hours.  Since it was so close to Halloween, we decided to break out the wax teeth, mustaches and wigs.  I must say that I was rather pleased with the outcome.

uBrad Hill

Intel Engineer, Brad Hill




Saturday, September 29, 7:00  AM EDT
Well, Dawn has broken, folks are really slowing down and the room is a mess. About 4 AM , the network went down, which is a big problem -no Google??!!!  None-the-less the students have continued coding staight through the night and there has been significant progress on all of their applications.
I am nfortunately too tired toblog.  I'll catch up you up later
I do have some nice video of our 7:00 AM check-inns, but I am having video embedding issues.Let's see if these work.  Talk to you later.


Tuesday, October 2, 8:45 AMPDT

Well I'm  back at the office in Hillsboro Oregon.  It has taken me a few days to recover.  First, let me post the final videos, then I'll update on my thoughts.  In a few days, I'll have the material from the students.

Team Ce Ne Fait Rien final report out


Team Ce Ne Fait Rien final report out of their app at the Intel Ga Tech Code for Good hackathon. The challenge was to build apps. using HTML5 on the Ultrabook™ , that would help children and families make better health and nutrition decisions.  Remember, nobody on this video, including your's truly, the camerman, has slept in the past 32 hours ;-)  Nice implementation here of multiple games and creating incentives to learn!

Team Pony final report out

Boy, Team Pony did a great job.  I like the approach they took in abstracting away some human aspects of their avatar but still coming up with an (oddly) compelling little guy from whom kids can learn. I also like the dashboard and charts they came upm with.  This has the making of a real tool that families could use.


Team Nemo Final report out

Team Nemo brings it home with an open framework for lifestyle games including a dashboard and a currency API open to all game devekopers.  This video (like that of all teams) is worth watching.


The Team -They Rock!

*Other Names and Brands maybe claimed as the property of others.

Package icon danmarksobesitybackgrounder.zip3.69 MB
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Paul Steinberg (Intel)'s picture

Thanks Anonymous ;-) Feel free to join our community. I would be happy to have you as a regular contributor.

anonymous's picture

I believe avoiding refined foods is the first step to be able to lose weight. They might taste very good, but refined foods currently have very little nutritional value, making you eat more simply to have enough strength to get over the day. When you are constantly feeding on these foods, switching to whole grain products and other complex carbohydrates will assist you to have more strength while feeding on less. Great blog post.

Matthew Wolf's picture

People are settling in for the long haul, now. It's a little funny -- one of the things that we're supposed to communicate to kids and their families is that it's important to limit the amount of screen time... and yet here we are with about 24 hours left tied to our laptops.

Paul Steinberg (Intel)'s picture

We kicked off a few hours ago. We can Skype you in at 1:30 PM PDT when the teams do their first report out, I thin that would be great!!

Tom (wolfmurphy) Murphy's picture

Glad to in the midst of babysitting grandkids and assigning programming projects to CS students hungry for more work.

When is the kickoff moment today and to where do I call in?

Paul Steinberg (Intel)'s picture

Hey Tom - Darn, I try to fool 'em and you give it away. But you are correct, the bullet points are to spur ideas, not set up guidelines. Tom, I am hoping that you will be able to call in during the event to talk to the students and share your good tech energy.

Tom (wolfmurphy) Murphy's picture

Congrats on facilitating a great Georgia Tech Hackathon. Don't let Paul fool you by the list he gave. The nature of the Hackathon is not accomplished by following a list of bullet points; it happens between the lines; between the cracks. Paul did an amazing job at both the Hackathons I had the pleasure to lead with him. The students are busy while we are active with the cajoling, commiserating, counseling, communicating, and encouraging with is the core of successfully facilitating a hackathon.

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