Western Pa. students invited to Pine-Richland programming competition
Whether students are an expert programmer or amateur coder, there is a place for them in the 2023 Pine-Richland “Hack the Ram” programming competition.
On 28 January, the district will welcome pupils from upper secondary schools and secondary schools from across the region to the free competition.
“There’s a place for everybody,” Pine-Richland junior Noah Orellana said. “Anyone can come in and at least learn.”
The day-long event centers around an “invention marathon”, where students are given a theme at the event and must create a program or application that revolves around the theme during the hack-a-thon. Students can participate in teams of up to four people.
Last year’s health and wellness theme saw programs ranging from covid questionnaires to a benign tumor identifier, Orellana said.
At the end of the event, the students will have a program or application to take home – and the winners of the invention marathon will each be awarded a 3D printer.
When students are not focused on the Invention Marathon, they can participate in a raffle, chess tournament, video game tournament, and a variety of seminars.
Orellana, who is responsible for running Hack the Ram this year, organized the seminars last year. The seminars help teach beginners how to code and share new information with advanced and comfortable programmers.
“It gives people the chance to dip their toes in some different places,” Orellana said.
Pine-Richland began hosting Hack the Ram in 2019, according to high school computer science teacher and programming club sponsor Valerie Klosky. Klosky believes the event gives students exposure to computational thinking and helps them solve problems with a greater purpose.
The event’s invitation to students from all schools is also important, she added.
“It shows our leadership and motivation to really value computer science,” she said. “By doing that, it broadens the exposure to other students in the area.”
Coding helps students think logically and digitally, regardless of career, Klosky said.
Orellana agreed. He was introduced to coding in high school. Now he plans to pursue a career in software engineering, hardware engineering or computer science.
“(Coding) really makes you think in a different way,” he said. “Code lessons have made me better in other classes.”
Students in grades six through 12 can register for Hack the Ram at hacktheram.com. The event is completely free thanks to the sponsors, which include PNC, PPG, NetApp, Aspirational Health, Schell Games and GKG Orthodontics.
During the event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the high school, students will receive lunch, dinner, snacks, t-shirts and prizes.
Students are encouraged to bring their own technology, but Pine-Richland will have several Chromebooks on site.