A team of students from Bellevue will launch a worldwide youth hackathon this weekend to help develop new ways of educating their communities. 

The “InspirEd Hacks” event, coordinated by the student-driven nonprofit Mission InspirEd, is a free event challenging students ages 10-18 to synthesize their creativity and coding skills into a product that could benefit their own school systems and communities. 

The event has attracted international interest. As of Monday, 45 individuals or teams had registered from as close as Redmond and San Jose, California, and as far as Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and schools in India, said Mission InspirEd marketing director Shreyas Subramanian. 

The term “hackathon” refers to an intensive meeting of the minds where participants can combine their skills to complete a task or create a solution to a problem in a short period of time. 

Students have until 11:59 p.m. PDT Thursday to register as either individuals or in teams of up to four people. InspirEd Hacks launches at 10 a.m. Friday, and the window to submit original projects will close at 6 p.m. Sunday. Winners will be announced by July 4. 

Subramanian, a sophomore at Newport High School in Bellevue, said that as programming proliferates in society, students should feel comfortable with knowing and using coding for projects and everyday life applications. His computer science classes at Newport helped him to understand how youth can use their own hands and experiences to collaborate and “do something bigger” to positively influence their communities, he said. Hackathons are a great way to learn and experiment: “There’s a lot you can learn from other people in the field,” Subramanian said.

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The hackathon weekend will include a chance for participants to connect and collaborate through the interactive messaging and digital distribution platform Discord, and will also offer a series of live workshops with working professionals in data science, machine learning, educational technology (edutech), game design and virtual and augmented reality. 

“You can educate yourself on practical, usable skills,” said Mission InspirEd co-founder and Newport graduate Josh Yum, now a freshman at Pomona College in California. 

The competition is sponsored by more than a dozen tech and education companies and comes with a grand prize of $500, along with other cash and equipment prizes to be awarded by age and project format divisions. 

Back in the spring, Mission InspirEd held a national competition seeking student artwork that captured their experiences and emotions about the COVID-19 pandemic. They received nearly 200 entries.

Arohan Agate, a Newport sophomore and Mission InspirEd’s marketing coordinator, said for this competition the group wanted to emphasize edutech development to help reach communities that have limited educational resources and funding for their classrooms. “The idea is for participants to uplift people around them,” he said. 

Learn more and register at www.missioninspired.org/hackathon.