EdAppHack: Educational Hackathon at MaRS Discovery District #EdAppHack

Its been two weeks since EdAppHack and been meaning to write a blog about the day but its been very busy at school. So a 5 am wake up and were we go!

Check out http://EdAppHack.com

The event couldn’t have gone off any better (ok maybe there could have been a few improvements)! It was all the dedicated people that made this completely free youth driven, educational hackathon a success! So thank you to all the planning members, sponsors, teachers, mentors, Humber students and most importantly the high school students for making this event awesome.

There were way too many photos to choose from, instead of making this post massive here are the links to our social media summaries!

Checkout the Storify here: https://storify.com/brandonzoras/edapphack

Checkout the Tumblr here: http://edapphack.tumblr.com/ 

Joseph Romano and I welcomed everyone in and thanked the group. The main message we wanted to let them know is we are flipping the model of app development. The students are the bosses and will be working with mentors and developers to have their ideas heard. They were to identify gaps and put forth a solution that would help other youth.

We got to hear from Carla Kisko, associate director of TDSB welcoming the students to the day. Our major sponsor Humber College, was a huge part of the day. They acted as mentors and developers which were critical to the success of the apps made. Heather Lowry the associate dean of School of Media Studies & information Technology, gave a great opening of which programs can take if interested in programming and app development.

To open the day we had an amazing keynote speaker Robleh Jama from Tiny Hearts, a Toronto app company, give his background and motivation for the day. His presentation can be found here:


Joe Wilson, Senior Strategist, Educational Technology at MaRS Discovery District inspired the room and got the students thinking of the many roles that go into a successful app. He explained each group needs a hacker, a hustler and a designer. That proved to be very true from our winning team as they were able to strike a perfect balance of the three. He got them up and creating all-star teams.

After an amazing lunch provided by the youth food program at Central Technical School, we broke off into scrums. Scrums accepted 1-2 students from each team over to a side section where they were able to learn about a concept and brining it back to the group.

Scrum 1: Storyboarding/Designing an App by Sticker UI Book – Killer Inc

I reached out to this Kickstarter that was going through the funding process just as our hackathon was going on. I saw they had a great UI (user interface) idea for apps and asked if they could make a custom sheet for our hackathon. They gratefully provided us with an awesome UI design sheet for a variety of devices and storyboarding. Students came up with some awesome interfaces and turned to the Humber students and mentors to help them.

Scrum 2: Prototyping with AppSeed

Ariel, a Humber College Student led the scrum. He did an amazing job showcasing this awesome app he worked on with Greg Goralski. Students were able to draw on a prototype paper and use AppSeed to scan in the pages and make a working prototype in minutes. Click here for their Kickstarter!

Scrum 3: Mozilla App Maker – Hatch Canada 

Hatch Canada ran the Mozilla Appmaker scrum. Appmaker is an amazing tool that allows you to make a functioning web app in minutes, while teaching the basics of coding at the same time.

The rest of the day was left to the youth hacking along! They developed awesome logos, twitter accounts, surveyed potential customers and got to work on promotional videos and their pitch.

Day 2 started off with the same energy that was buzzing in the room the day before. The 3 pm pitch deadline was looming and the groups were eager to get back to work. Gen Ling Chang the associate director of TDSB gave a great welcome back to get the students started. She spoke about embracing this as a model for learning and the importance of being innovative.

Marc Saltzman had a great video message for the group, sharing what makes a good app.  He was very enthusiastic and the students really loved the inspiration. Getting to hear from Robleh the day before and Marc now, they really got some good advice to tweak their app.

Marc’s Video http://youtu.be/A2wjzVs_3to

Scrum 4: How to Pitch – Joe Wilson of MaRS.

Joe gave a whole group talk on how to pitch to the judges. He talked about the importance of a short elevator pitch that gets the most important details across so that it would leave a lasting impression.

Scrum 5: Teachers Only – How to use this process in your class. Ryan Burwell from MaRS / Twenty One Toys.

Ryan got a big discussion of what was happening over the weekend and what that would like in schools. Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend this scrum as I was prepping for the pitches but would love a teacher to comment on the session!

Right before the pitches one of the judges, Darin Graham, CEO of Orion, gave an incredible talk to the students. He was extremely real, motivating and got the students thinking of the future. Orion also was a major sponsor and had a film crew to document the innovation that is happening on their network. Look out soon for that!

The judges took their seats and the pitch order was randomized. Judges for this weekend were

Peter Singh, Chief Technology Officer, Toronto District School Board

Heather Lowry, Associate Dean, School of Media Studies & Information Technology,

Humber College

Darin Graham, President & CEO, ORION

All three judges brought a wealth of experience and we thank them so much.

Pitches: Why tell you when you can see them all here:


The Winners!

1) Switch On – Kipling C.I. and Vaughn Road Academy

2) One Mark – Woburn Collegiate

3) Time4Life – Birchmount Collegiate

4) Time Line – Hardbord Collegiate

All teams made amazing apps. The other teams did amazing and had such great apps as well. The top 4 listed above were able to come up with a great app and win the hearts of the judges with a clear and quick pitch.

Thank you, co- facilitators Joe Romano and Joe Wilson. We couldn’t have done it without Peter Singh, Gen Ling Chang, Carla Kisko, Heather Lowry and Humber College, Cathy Bogaart and Darin Graham of Orion, Ontario College of Teachers, Sesame, Chalk.com, Nuvango and Leader PM / Quality Plating . Thank you to all the mentors and Humber students as well as the volunteers from Monarch Park documenting the day!

For the handouts for the event see: http://edapphack.com/resource

Our interview on MindShare Learning with Robert Martellacci http://mindsharelearning.ca/2014/11/05/exclusive-interview-with-joseph-romano-and-brandon-zoras/

Social Media can be found here:

Website http://edapphack.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/edapphack
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EdAppHack
Tumblr http://edapphack.tumblr.com
Instagram http://instagram.com/edapphack
YouTube http://youtube.com/user/EdAppHack 


Joseph Romano, Brandon Zoras and Joe Wilson

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