Hamilton Holds 2nd Annual Youth Tech Challenge

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Second Annual Youth Tech Challenge. Photo Credit Alanna Phillips.
State Sen. Jesse Hamilton

Digital Girl, Inc held State Senator Jesse Hamilton’s (D-Central Brooklyn) Second Annual Youth Tech Challenge over the weekend.

This year’s event was held in coordination with Women’s History Month at Medgar Evers College. The competition is part of Hamilton’s larger ‘The Campus’ initiative aimed at increasing STEM participation and engagement in the communities of Crown Heights and Brownsville.

Students from grades 5 to 12 were invited to participate in the one day hack-a-thon held in Medgar Ever’s library centered around the theme “A Community Builds.” The students were encouraged to think about problems they saw in their community, large and small, that they thought they could have an impact on.

Local students taking part in the 2nd Annual Youth Tech Challenge. Photo Credit, Alanna Phillips.

“All of you come from a community. You can think of your community as your neighborhood or the whole borough, but we want you to think of what application that you might be able to build to help your community. When you picture promise and future what do you see? What changes do you envision? ” said Toni Robinson, the Director of Programming for Digital Girl.

In a brainstorming session the students came up with ideas ranging from increasing the number of veterinarians and animal sanctuaries in Brooklyn to finding ways to get more kids on playgrounds and in sports to improving community centers and shelters for the homeless.

In groups, the kids picked their best ideas and after learned the HTML needed to create the home page for a website. They were then prompted to develop their ideas into a workable plan and figure out how to best promote their idea through a website.

Along with coding skills, they gained practice thinking of the best ways to advertise their ideas and present them in front of their peers and judges.

One of the goals of both Digital Girl and “The Campus,” Senator Hamilton’s technology and wellness hub, is to encourage inner city youth, especially girls, to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Launched more than two years ago, Hamilton’s “The Campus”, now has seven locations, including it’s original campus at the Howard Houses in Brownsville and more recently at M.S. 61 in Crown Heights and East Flatbush Research School. 

“In addition to exposing our youth to future career opportunities in coding, computer science, and information technology, this Youth Tech Challenge helps build the innovative leaders of tomorrow,” said Hamilton.

“You guys are on your way to being software engineers,” said Robinson. “This is what I do for a living. You think of a problem and come up with a way to fix it.”

Local students taking part in the 2nd Annual Youth Tech Challenge. Photo Credit, Alanna Phillips.

The winning team of the 7 to 10 year old age group created a website “A Helping Hand,” which was an initiative to combat homelessness and help those that are currently homeless. The winners of the 12 to 17 year old range came up with a website and arcade idea, Gaming Gods Arcade (#GGArcade), an arcade for all ages that promotes family time.

Every participant received a certificate from Senator Hamilton’s office and some swag from Digital Girl and State Farm, one of the event’s sponsors. The winning teams each received a tech swag that included a portable charging/battery pack, a Bluetooth portable speaker, and a light-up, fidget spinner, provided by Digital Girl Inc. accompanied by earbuds and a phone stand provided by State Farm.

“Youth empowerment and youth leadership has been critical to reimagining and remaking the world – taking us from where we are to where we should be. The Challenge’s theme ‘A Community Builds’ meant focusing on challenges these young people see and using the skills Digital Girl educators foster to meet those challenges,” added Hamilton.