The League of Extraordinary Coders

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In the 2017-2018 school year, the NYC Department of Education is piloting the first Computer Science for All (CS4All) Hack League, a citywide, bracket-style coding competition that encourages students from across the five boroughs to create and design games to tackle real-world issues.

For schools to participate, middle and high school teachers with experience teaching CS and/or game design were invited to apply for the program. Winning teams that emerged from the first round of hackathons at over 60 schools in December moved on to borough-level contests in early February for the second round. The winners from each borough will advance to a final, citywide game making competition for the chance to win prizes.

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The Round Two Hackathon event for Brooklyn was held at NYU Metrotech Center and was one of four borough-level hackathons that took place that day.

Over 150 students participated in the event, with 34 teams competing to design a game addressing the theme of the day, News Literacy, which is the ability to see the news and tell the difference between fact and opinion, truth and “fake news.” Many teams designed games that help the user to understand that difference, and in doing so utilized several steps of the design process: brainstorming and reflection, prototyping and playtesting, and giving each other feedback along the way.

Our partners at the Oath Foundation, a major funder of CS4All, supported the second round of competition by offering a field trip to the offices of the Huffington Post so that students can learn about news literacy and digital storytelling from professional editors. The winning team from each borough site will be able to participate in this field trip.

Teams were judged on four categories: game play, theme, CS presentation, and overall “wow factor.”

The student team from Mark Twain IS 239 won the Brooklyn-borough Round 2 competition with a game called “Celeb Fact-Check.” The runner-up was a group from JHS 220 John J. Pershing, which designed an app game titled “Fact or Fake.” An Advanced Pathfinder student helped to present the awards.

Round 2 Results
First Place
Bronx: Collegiate Institute for Math and Science
Queens: The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria
Manhattan: PS 126 Manhattan Academy of Technology
Staten Island: Tottenville High School
Brooklyn: Mark Twain IS 239
Second Place
Bronx: The Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx
Queens: Information Technology High School
Manhattan: Vanguard High School
Staten Island: Tottenville High School
Brooklyn: PS 220 John Jay Pershing

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Stakeholders involved with the competition were excited with the success of the events. “The CS4All borough-wide hackathon was an amazing opportunity for middle and high school students across all five boroughs to come together and create games that can help their community increase news literacy skills,” said Amy Hendershot, operations director for computer science education with the NYC DOE. “Students were exposed to a supportive environment that facilitated computer science skill building and thoughtful social change. We look forward to seeing what the winning students create in the city-wide finals.”

The first place and second place winners of Round Two will compete in the citywide finals in late March at the New York City Microsoft Reactor in New York, NY. Good luck to all of the participating coders!

Lauren Perkins