Summit Taken Over By Hackers

Story by Rylee Robinson

For Johnston sixth and seventh students, STEM is becoming more of a reality for future endeavors.

Ben Chadwick, the Summit Middle School Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teacher, has

Students from Johnston, Ankeny, Waukee, and Dallas Center-Grimes worked together during the first-ever Hackathon.

Students from Johnston, Ankeny, Waukee, and Dallas Center-Grimes worked together during the first-ever Hackathon.

been preparing students for the Hyperstream Consortium Hackathon happening February 21 at Summit. Here, students from Johnston, Waukee, Ankeny, and Dallas Center-Grimes will join forces to design and promote a new product/service to local area business clients.

Fifteen businesses, ranging from spas to steel companies, jumped on board for the opportunity to get new insight and ideas from fresh minds. Representatives from each business – or clients, in this case – meet with the teams for 30 minutes at the beginning of the day and 30 minutes at the end of the day for the business pitch.

Students have been using LEGO robots, Spheros programming and Lightbot, an iPad application, to gain more knowledge on STEM and robotics, and how this type of technology can be applied to business marketing.

“This class promotes job opportunities for students,” said Chadwick. “Through the class, they open themselves up to new electives they wouldn’t have taken and gain exposure to career fields they may not have known about.”

The Hyperstream Consortium Hackathon shows students what the STEM field may look like and offers real-world experience. They learn this experience first hand through building professional relationships and gaining customer satisfaction.

“When kids think of informational technology (IT) jobs they think of software and sitting at a computer all day,” said Chadwick. “Having these sponsors shows how robotics can apply to any business.”

The Hackathon will be the pinnacle event of the year for HyperStream, putting to use everything the students have learned since August in efforts to give them the big picture idea of STEM careers.The Hackathon also presents a unique opportunity for students from all four districts to work together. The Waukee eleventh and twelfth grade students will act as project managers, the Johnston Summit Middle School sixth and seventh grade students will be the programmers, the Dallas Center-Grimes Meadows eighth and ninth grade students will be the web developers, and the Ankeny South Middle School ninth grade students will be business analysts. These students will be mixed up into groups to encourage schools to come together in a non-competitive environment.

“The Hackathon presents a rewarding opportunity to work with other teachers and between districts,” said Chadwick. “The challenge comes with each district having a lot of pride in their own students and their abilities, but honestly, we can do much more when we work together. The Hackathon is a great example of collaborative learning.”