By Avinash Ramaswamy, OC Scholar

Orange County's Fall Hackathon was held on Sunday, Oct. 23 at Ardent Academy from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Boys and girls, from 4th through 6th grade, met up with the volunteers at OC Coder to compete in this exciting and fun coding event.

Sixteen boys and girls, who had taken Scratch classes with OC Coder before, teamed up in pairs and worked together using Scratch to design a game based on the theme of this season’s Hackathon, Halloween.

The goal for each pair was to design a creative, working game that met certain criteria from a rubric and to make their game better than the others. Judges from OC Coder graded the games and gave the winning team a prize.

"The Hackathon is really fun and amazing," sixth grader Calvin Huang said as he worked on his wizard-and-clown Halloween battle-game with his partner. "This really lets me show my creative thinking and apply what I have learned from my Scratch classes into a game in a [competitive setting]."

Many other innovative and creative ideas have been developed throughout the competition, ranging from bats catching candy to mazes. "These basic games and projects are just the stepping stones to future greatness in coding," Hackathon director and junior Jessica Lee said.

"The competition lets these kids truly show their creative nature and apply that into a game," OC Coder volunteer and sophomore Shravan Hariharan said. "The competitive exposure in coding is great. If I could go back and compete in this type of event, I would."

The Hackathon not only is an exciting and competitive event, but can also help spread love of coding and keep kids motivated and interested in the field.

“I love seeing how students can exit out of one classroom with a notebook full of codes and notes and then enter into another one, using those same notes to create something so amazing and unique,” Hackathon director Jessica Lee said.

Students learn the concepts in a coding class, but it is up to the Hackathon to help them apply these concepts in the real world.

“Keeping these competitions keeps the passions students have for coding alive,” Lee said. “At the end of the day, we are maintaining the love of [computer science] throughout elementary school students in Orange County, and that is really what the Hackathon is about.”