In the first week of August Yoomee was one of the centres for Young Rewired State's Festival of Code. The Festival of Code is the world's largest hackathon for young people and involves over 1,000 coders hosted at 70 centres across the UK. Its aim is to get them building apps, games or websites using open data which they then pitch to peers and judges at a massive weekend festival.
This year Yoomee hosted 15 participants in Sheffield; half of whom were returning veterans and the others were kids who had heard about us thanks to Code Make Win letting us promote the event with them. We also had five mentors from the local tech community helping us at various points during the week.
1) TrainTrip by Andrew Deniszczyc, Neel Dugar and Tom Mercer
Andrew, Neel and Tom developed TrainTrip, a web application with the sole purpose of making your commute more interesting. This is how they described it: "Too many times people are bored out of their minds on Britain's trains, to this we say no more. Use the site on your PC to get a better idea of what's about or use it on your phone for realtime notifications of upcoming points of interest."
2) LifeChange by Jack Shakeshaft, Imran Khan, James Strong and Anas Aldabbagh
Jack, Imran, James and Anas worked on LifeChange a website that allows you to easily donate to a variety of charities and see live events run by the charities involved. It uses several examples of open data such as the information on each charity, the events the charities are running.
3) füd by Mayank Gupta, Joel Mayer, Emma Corlett and Neena Dugar
4) Jobmania by James Clifford, Callum Neenan, Jake Fearn and Mohammed Al-asali
James, Callum Jake and Mohammed focused on Jobmania a website that "provides jobs for anybody. You can apply to any job according to your choice. We support giving anybody jobs from big to small. There is a large variety of them to choose from so that you can easily find the one that you are looking for."
After four days hard graft in Sheffield, we travelled to Birmingham on the Friday for the weekend event, where around 1,000 people from the YRS centres across the country converged. Following excellent presentations in the heats by all teams Füd and Traintrip were invited to the semi-finals; Füd in the Should Exist category and Traintrip in Best Example of Design.
Traintrip got through to the final and performed very well, but unfortunately didn't win their category.
It was a great opportunity for the young people to socialise with their peers. Most of them worked through the weekend and there were a lot of laptops still lit in the small hours of Saturday morning. It was also interesting to see all the different approaches to the problem they'd been set; as they could use any technology they wanted there was a lot of cutting edge skills on show. You can look at all the entries here: http://hacks.youngrewiredstate.org/events/festival-of-code-2015/
Takeaways from the week
- Open data is an amazing thing; everyone created such awesome applications and could create so much more if more data and APIs were easily available. I heard quite a few teams say: “Oh, we wanted to do ...
but there's no API!"
- Hardware hacking is big. The jury is still out on the 'Internet of Things' but lots of really cool projects came from the mix of hardware and software, including Best in Show winner “P.U.M.P.S".
- Coming up with ideas is really hard. When you can do (almost) anything, it's very difficult to pick something. Next year we're going to try ideation differently; either through the use of personas (What kind of app could help this person?) or by thinking about what problems we could solve with specific APIs.
There are lots more quotes and photos on our Festival of Code Tumblr and we hope to have a video up soon!