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UA+Ed Foundation Grant in Action: Nationwide Insurance Hackathon




Friday, April 19, 2024 | Upper Arlington High School


On April 19, 2024, the Upper Arlington Education Foundation was proud to join Computer Science teacher, Dr. Diane Kahle and community partner Nationwide Insurance at Upper Arlington High School for the school's fourth annual Hackathon. 


The Story Behind the Grant

This year’s Hackathon was enhanced through funding from the Joanie Dugger, Educator of the Year Award Fund at the Upper Arlington Education Foundation. Thanks to the Joanie Dugger Educator of the Year Fund, Dr. Diane Kahle, received a $1,000 grant from the Upper Arlington Education Foundation to use for a grant of her choice after being named the Upper Arlington High School’s 2023/24 Educator of the Year. Dr. Kahle knew immediately that she wanted to use this funding for the Hackathon.


"Each year, the Nationwide Hackathon allows students the ability to work hands-on with peers, and experts in the field, to create and solve problems together.” - Dr. Diane Kahle

The Project

The first Nationwide Hackathon was part of the High School’s Idea Day in 2019. The number of students and Nationwide IT engineers continues to grow each year partly because this all-day event invites any student, regardless of their computer science background and knowledge, to “dabble” and experience coding, AI, and circuiting.

 

This year was the largest yet, with participation from 100 students, 28 Nationwide Volunteers, six Upper Arlington Educators, and, for the first time, students from three visiting high schools. The number of activities and competitions also grew this year and included: a Generative AI Bootcamp, a Coding Problem-Solving Contest, a Game Design Challenge using Raspberry Pi Microcomputers and Electronics, and a Capture the Flag Cybersecurity Contest. 


All of the materials for the activities and challenges (event t-shirts, and prizes) were provided by Nationwide Insurance. UA+Ed’s grant funded lunches for students, teachers, and Nationwide volunteers. The foundation also provided "Debugging Ducks" for students. The duck debugging method is a practice used by programmers to help them get unstuck by talking through challenges with an inanimate object. Research shows that this process increases the efficiency and capability of programmers.


The Lasting Impressions 

“The Hackathon was really created to give all students a unique learning experience that they do not get inside the classroom or outside of the classroom. It is filling a gap in the curriculum as computers become an integral part of everything that we are doing around the world - especially as we reach college and job age.” - Marcus B., UAHS Senior


“AI is going to be a very big part of our future and attending the session was a great opportunity to understand how AI works.” - Merina K., UAHS Junior 


“This coding contest gave me a different coding environment than I was used to. It was a time crunch to think of a solution and code efficiently to solve the problem they were looking for compared to discussing it in a group.” - Luca, UAHS Senior


“It was cool to learn the basic fundamentals of circuiting and how a computer can be so small. We also learned coding in Python which was a great experience as well.” - Chris B., UAHS Junior 


“I don’t know who enjoys the Hackathon more - the students who get a day out of classes to learn in a new way or my co-workers who plan the event all year and get the day off work to be mentors.” - Chris Newlin, Associate Vice President, Technology Enablement at Nationwide


The Upper Arlington Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides access to meaningful opportunities for students that are beyond the budget of the Upper Arlington School District. Established in 1985, UA+Ed is permanently structured to fund programs and projects today and for generations to come. The Upper Arlington Alumni Association is an important part of the foundation and keeps graduates connected, engaged, and motivated to pay it forward. 




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