Can they hack it? Students try out computer skills

At last weekend’s ”codeORcreate” hackathon, students worked hard to create websites, games, and digital ad campaigns that helped shine light on social issues-diversity in CS, cyberbullying, tutoring help for students and pollution. The event culminated in a presentation from each team which showed off their hard work. Photo provided

SPRINGFIELD – High school students across Southern Lane County came together on Feb. 28 for a weekend filled with coding, hacking and tech challenges.
The event, codeORcreate, was started by Connected Lane County and sponsored by Wayfair as an opportunity to increase student engagement in coding and Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) programs, particularly for rural students.
”The event was awesome,” Heidi Larwick, director of Connected Lane County, said. ”It was a great event for students to showcase their talents.”
There were nine teams in attendance, two were from Cottage Grove and Springfield. Creswell and Pleasant Hill didn’t participate this year.
The Cottage Grove team was made up of seniors: Marlin Serna, Natalie Popowski, Taielor Powell and McKenna Tucker. The Springfield team was made up of Corbin Riggs, Cesar Rodriquez-Romo, Christian Benway and team members from Mohawk and Marcola as well.
”These schools don’t always have the resources to host comprehensive STEM programs,” Larwick said, ”so giving students the ability to experiment and have fun with fellow classmates is a great way to introduce them to coding, or grow their skills if they already have an interest in it.”
CodeORcreate offered students four different challenges, each relating to coding or visual design, which the teams chose from. The teams worked over the course of the weekend to complete their challenge, with guidance from community volunteers and industry professionals. Challenges included designing an app for a local nonprofit, creating a website, making an ad campaign and designing a game.
”We’re proud to sponsor Connected Lane County’s inaugural codeORcreate hackathon,” said Joel Johnson, Springfield site director of Wayfair. ”It’s great to see students from across our community interested in coding and expanding their STEM knowledge beyond the classroom.”
Larwick said she had worked with the Cottage Grove’s all-female team, and it was rewarding to see them compete and win in their category.
”It was a fulfilling moment to see the effort and work manifest in that team having great success for themselves and feeling empowered,” she said.
All teams walked away with prizes for their efforts, with Best-in-Show prizes going to teams from Siuslaw High School and McKenzie River Community School.
Already students have asked and expressed interest in next year’s event.
”It’s an event people have been asking for for 18 months,” Larwick said. ”For our team to put together and pull it off, and impact so many people professionally, that was thrilling for me too.”



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