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    Friday, October 07, 2022

    At hackathon, students create apps to help local nonprofits

    New London — A scheduling app for High Hopes Therapeutic Riding in Old Lyme. A pet-matching app for Friday's Rescue Foundation in Groton. A direction app for New London Main Street.

    These were some of the prototype apps that 52 local students in grades four through eight created at Mitchell College Saturday, Oct. 6, with the help of Pfizer employees and teachers acting as mentors.

    They had gathered for several hours for Kids Coding for a Cause, the second noncompetitive hackathon that Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. has hosted at Mitchell College. The organization has held more than 30 hackathons total since it was recognized as a nonprofit in 2015.

    Technology educator Patrice Gans founded the organization to "empower and inspire youth to use technology for social good," she said in a news release. Hackathons ask students to address problems local nonprofits are facing.

    "By the end of the day we hope they will see how technology can have a positive impact on someone's life," Gans said. "Coding is more than a computer game."

    She organized the event with Emily Smith, a senior information manager at Pfizer. There were 10 groups of students, and each designed an app and a display poster.

    The other participating nonprofits — each of which had representation for at least part of the day — were Sankofa Education and Leadership Inc., Higher Edge, Reliance Health Inc., Madonna's Place and Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center.

    Students participating came from more than 15 Connecticut schools, including West Side Middle School in Groton, Clark Lane Middle School in Waterford, Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London, East Lyme Middle School and Oakdale Elementary School.

    Ten students came from Winthrop STEM Elementary Magnet School, Gans said, and technology teacher Cara Smith mentored at the event.

    Other mentors were teachers from Pine Point School in Stonington and Fields Memorial School in Bozrah, while five mentors came from Pfizer, which helped fund the event through a grant.

    e.moser@theday.com

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