TeenHacks LI: Bringing the tech revolution to Long Island youth through successful first event

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Photo courtesy of Arielle Fishler

On Sept. 29 and Sept. 30, an event took place for coders and members of New York’s STEM community at the CoderSchool Syosset. The teen “hackathon” was run by TeenHacks LI, an organization started by Jeffrey Yu, a senior at Roslyn High School with co-founder Wesley Pergament, a junior at Jericho High School.

Calling all designers, coders, makers and builders to take part in the premier 24-hour high school hackathon, the event garnered over a hundred applicants, but due to space limitations only a fraction could attend. The event brought together beginners, intermediate and advanced coders ages 14 to 18 to collaborate. With about 60 students, the event showed a great diversity of attendees including 45 percent of ethnic minorities and over a third female. Students traveled from all over, with the majority being from Long Island, but also including students from New York City, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The 24-hour event, consisted of several workshops, speakers and a lot of creativity, as students were competing in teams to create an array of projects. Co-founders Yu and Pergament created the event with the goal of “building a hacker community here on Long Island, with an emphasis placed on innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Nada Anid and Christian Pongratz of NYIT awarded the winners of the event scholarships and lab time to continue working on their respective projects. Additionally, TIBCO, a software company based in Silicon Valley, provided TeenHacksLI with multiple speakers and mentors. Anthony Buonaspina, CEO of LI Tech Advisors ran a workshop at the hackathon to explain the importance of digital accessibility. Later on, Nassau County 18th District Legislator Joshua Lafazan stopped by to issue a citation commending the efforts of TeenHacksLI.

At the end, with little sleep and much excitement, each team presented their projects to a panel of judges of leaders in technology.

The second place winner created a web extension called Party Preview that previews web pages and predicts their political leanings.

The first place winner created a project called NeuralHelp, which has an autistic based chatbot that can talk to children who are less comfortable talking to others.

Winners were awarded various pieces of hardware, software and even internships to promote their endeavors in technology.

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