In conjunction with the Chesapeake Conservancy and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), Old Dominion University’s Mitigation & Adaptation Research Institute (MARI) hosted a Code for Good hackathon under the White House’s Climate Data initiative. The project here was to design a system of low-cost water level sensors, aggregate the data to evaluate weather conditions, and provide useful services to the community.
A hackathon is an event where people get together and make things from scratch over a solid block of time. A codefest is a subtype of hackathon, focused exclusively on software development. A gamejam is a further specialized type of codefest, where the projects being developed are games. There is variance in the details and naming choices, but this is the general breakdown.
The Intel® Code for Good Math Game Event was a rather ambitious undertaking for two reasons. First, the topic of math and figuring out a strategy to make it fun and educational is a tough mission in and of itself. Secondly, the hackathon was a coordinated event involving interns and volunteers at three different Intel® sites over the weekend of July 19 and 20, 2014.
I was pleased to be asked by Intel's Bob Duffy to jaunt down to San Antonio last weekend for a 36-hour 'school's out' lock-in hackathon. SoHacks 2014 was held June 13 and 14 at Rackspace's extremely accommodating global headquarters, and supported by a veritable 'who's who' of sponsors... including, of course, Intel.
I recently wrote here about the 2014 SoHacks hackathon, and doing so inspired me to do a general write-up on hackathon best practices based on my experience. I hear comments now and then from those involved with developer evangelism that hackathons are a waste of time and money, and I believe this article can help put that broad claim to rest.