Posted Wednesday 29th November 2017 by Head of the Hub, Gwyn Garfield-Bennett

Jersey Youth Hackathon - Inspiring our Island

What happens when you get fifty teenagers in a room, keep them up all night and feed them lots of sugary drinks and sweets? The answer might not be what you’d expect.

Jersey Youth Hackathon - Inspiring our Island

We’ve just hosted the annual Jersey Youth Hackathon and if you want to see inspirational ideas, hard work and passion for all things digital, then you should have been in the Digital Jersey Hub. Artificial intelligence, phone apps and websites for gaming, music and translating pictures, are just some of the creative projects produced.

The overall winner was a web app designed to allow people in Jersey to leave constructive criticism. Its creators, Jordan Proctor and Alex Matheson, both students from Hautlieu School, want it to be a positive platform that can help companies work with their customers to grow their businesses. It’s not just the idea or the technical skill that was recognised, but the mature way in which the boys viewed this two-way process and their understanding of the importance of ‘constructive’ criticism not cyber condemnation.

Runner up for Creativity was an artificial intelligence robot designed to help people with their mental health. The teddy bear inspired project was produced by Catalina Van Bodegom, Beaulieu School and Angus Griffin, Victoria College. One of the aspects of this project which impressed the judges, was the thought that had gone into the building of the relationship between the user and the AI teddy.

Runner up for Technical Expertise was a night light for cyclists which can be controlled by gloves and allows cyclists to indicate when turning as well as ensure they’re seen. The team behind this were Freddie Layer and Alice Fish, both from Hautlieu.

Something else about the Hackathon that is inspiring, is the way that our schools and the IT teachers worked together to put it on. Organised by Hautlieu teacher, Jason Wyatt, other teachers from various schools also supported the event. With the appointment of a new Digital Skills Co-ordinator by the Education department, it is heartening to see the increased recognition of the importance of digital skills for our youngsters. Digital Jersey is also continuing to work towards a seamless education flow right up to higher education and we hope to make more announcements about this in 2018.

The marathon coding sprint required imagination, problem solving, team work and technical skills – all essentials for a modern workplace. These kids are setting themselves up for success and many will not just be our future employees, but could well be our future employers.

Going back to my question at the top – while we certainly saw some inspiring work from our young people over the 16 hours of the hackathon – I’m not so sure their parents will have got such a great deal when the very tired teenagers returned home.

You can view a video of all the project presentations here.