Recap: Hack the Future 19 at Microsoft Silicon Valley

Sep 21, 2017   |   Christine Matheney, Technical Evangelism Lead at Microsoft

On August 26th, 2017, Hack the Future (HtF) held its 19th event at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Hack the Future is a one-day hackathon for youth in grades 5 through 12. Microsoft is a regular sponsor and participant, with this event marking the third time HtF has taken place at a Microsoft campus, including HtF 8 in August 2013 and HtF 14 in November 2015.

HtF is an all-day party and hackathon for kids that allows them to explore a variety of STEM activities and help them to find their passion. Students are provided with WiFi, lunch and snacks, free T-shirts, and a crew of enthusiastic mentors. The mentors help out at various tables by providing guidance and direction. Students are encouraged to try out a variety of activities, which gives them a chance to sample a bit of everything or spend the entire day on a deep dive on their favorite technology.

HtF 19 brought back familiar stations including Unity 3D, Minecraft modding, 3D design with SketchUp, 3D printing, soldering, Scratch/Snap!, JavaScript, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Python, digital logic, and design. This event further introduced stations for Java with Greenfoot and learning Chess.

More than 100 students and 30 mentors filled Galileo Auditorium. Approximately 20 of the participating kids came from families of Microsoft employees. This event was brought back to Microsoft thanks to The Garage’s Kenny Spade, who not only served as the site’s host, but also ran the popular 3D printing station for the event.

At the end of the day, hackers headed over to the theater, where they demoed their creations on stage to an audience of their peers, parents, and event mentors via a series of “lightning talks.” Projects presented included a text-based Pokemon battle game, controlling a robot, a total conversion of Minecraft, a zombie shooter in Unity, and numerous other creations.

HtF is a hackathon and a party. One hacker/attendee said that the event “was very educational and SUPER FUN!” Beyond developing at the event, students are encouraged to continue building upon their projects or learnings at home and beyond. As one parent describes, “HtF is only seven hours but it has the power to ignite the passion of the kids.” He further added, “For that, the parents are forever grateful!”

HtF 20 will be coming to San Francisco in November. The next event will welcome the return of some of our past mentors and participants, as well as new volunteers and young hackers!

Learn more about Hack the Future at http://hackthefuture.org/

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