Hack-a-thon at Chicago

Screenshot 2016-01-19 at 2.26.26 PM - Edited

On MLK Day (January 18, 2016), the Chicago team served the urban youth with the Blue1647 organization at the I-Have-a-Dream Hack-a-thon event. This event was an all day event, from 8 in the morning to 10 in the evening. Student participants, grades 7th-12th, learned how to code through creating prototype apps that addressed community problems. None of the youth were required to have prior coding experience, simply a deep curiosity in coding.

In honor of MLK Day, students identified community problems that were related to the issues that Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for. These community problems were violence and hate, voting rights, and unequal rights. The student participants worked closely with the BlueTeam and learned HTML and Materialize CSS to create their apps.

The first app was to join community members of disadvantaged backgrounds and provide them a space where they could advocate for each other. The second app was aimed to encourage young people to vote and provide them information in regards to voting. And the last app was geared towards decreasing hate crimes by promoting non-violence.

More importantly, all of our students had fun! They are looking forward already to attend another Hack-a-thon.


Just Getting Started in Chi-Town

At our 2 Chicago locations we have had a great response from the members at the Boys and Girls Club to the CS-First program. There were some students who would go home and continue to work on the their scratch projects. Almost all the students that completed the first CS-First program returned to participate in our second session of the program at our Club One location. The kids just can’t get enough of CS-First and Scratch! The students were so excited about completing the first session of CS-First they wanted to throw a party. So we got some paper for them to make signs to decorate and they all brought in snacks to celebrate. In the picture you can see their decorations and excitement.

While we have had a great response from the members of the Club we are in the process of overcoming a couple obstacles with implementing CS-First. The biggest being our limited access to technology within the clubs. Basically we have more club members interested in participating in the program than computers available. To overcome this obstacle Kelly and I are in the process of applying for grants to bring more technology into the Chicago clubs.

Overall we have been able to introduce over 80 students to computer science through the four CS-First Clubs we have been able to run in Chicago. While we are working on getting more technology to expand within the Boys and Girls Club, Kelly and I are also spreading the word on CS-First to the schools throughout Chicago. We plan to continue to expand within the Boys and Girls Club as well as through out the Chicago school system to try and expose as many students to the wonders of Computer Science as possible.


Greetings, my name is Paige Spillman, and I’m affectionately known at my club as “Google.” I originally hail from St. Louis, but went to college at Rockhurst University in Kansas City where I graduated in May 2015 with a degree in Business Administration and an emphasis in Marketing.  I applied to several AmeriCorps positions, not sure what to expect and was overjoyed when I was excepted into the first ever Code Corps VISTA’s group! This is an amazing group of people to be a part of and I cannot wait to see what we can do in partnership with Google and the Boys and Girls Club. I am currently working with Kelly Rosiles-Villagomez in Chicago, where the students we work with have already grabbed a hold of our hearts. Jumping right in and working with the kids in the Chicago clubs has lit a fire within me to implement a lasting program for future club members to experience and hopefully inspire them to dream big for themselves.



PS  The title is one of my favorite songs, control what you can and let the rest be.