London: 31 October 2012 Five student hackers won three of the seven top prizes at this year’s Autumn Hackathon at the Google Campus in east London last weekend.
Over fifty coders took up the challenge to produce apps to make learning fun, memorable and cool. And they produced some outstanding prototype apps, some of which are destined to be game-changers in the education sector.
Top-notch coder Kornel Lesinski and his partners – physicist George Corney and web designer Prathap – won the science category sponsored by EC1 Capital, with “Charged Particle Simulator”, a physics game to encourage kid to understand the interaction of charged particles with magnetic fields. Generations of A-Level students will thank them for this.
Visualiser Lou Auguste and his partner, Android developer Vin Gardner, made “Draw & Learn”, a gesture-based children’s learning game, built on Pearson’s Longman Dictionary API. They also won a BlackBerry Dev Alpha for creating the best app for the BlackBerry or app ported to BlackBerry during the Hackathon.
Alvise Susmel, Pietro Sacomani and Boulon Ulrich of 50Pixels struck a blow for cash-strapped schools and colleges by creating a web alternative to the massively expensive managed online learning systems that universities employ to share course information, materials and assignments. These systems are priced beyond the means of most primary and secondary schools and many other learning institutions. Says co-founder Pietro Saccomani: “We wanted to create a simple to use self-contained web app, but one that could also be linked to Dropbox for awesomely simple access from any device.” So they made “Locker”, the runaway winner of the Best Web App category.
There were several other outstanding apps, including a retro-style arcade counting game by veteran coder Daniel Knell.
But the stars of the show were the crew from the University of Southampton.
Four of the the five-strong contingent of first year computer science and software engineering students – Vlad Velici, Corin Chaplin, Andrada Focsa, and Khalifa Al-Daharni – won the Best Educational Games category for “Mathris”, their app to teach pupils basic mathematics.
The fifth, Alejandro Saucedo, the only second-year student among them, won the Best Design category and the RIM BlackBerry prize for best viral app for his app, “My BackPack”, an alternative to Blackboard for younger students.
Saucedo has form. As a first-year student he won at Autumn Hackathon 2011 with a web version of London Transport’s Lost & Found property service.
They must be doing something right at Southampton University to be able to turn out so many outstanding young programmers. A trip to the south coast is in order.
And to our hard-working judges who did a splendid job of picking the winners: Lawrie Nichols of Pearson Developers, Luca Sale of RIM Blackberry, Sergio Gutierrez-Santos of the Computer Science Dept., Birkbeck, Soizic Tsin, Project Manager, SGI and entrepreneur Heydr Faramarzi.
Charged Particle Simulator: Kornel Lesinski, Prathap, George Corney
A physics game encouraging kids to understand interaction of charged particles with magnetic fields. Play Charged Particle Simulator.
Mathris: Vlad Velici, Corin Chaplin, Andrada Focsa, Khalifa Al-Daharni
Fun app to teach pupils basic maths and quick thinking.
Draw & Learn: Vin Gardner, Lou Auguste
A gesture-based children’s learning game.
Locker: Alvise Susmel, Pietro Sacomani, Boulon Ulrich
Easy to use web app to help teachers share course materials and receive assignments from students. View blog post.
My BackPack: Alejandro Saucedo
An innovative alternative to Blackboard/Moodle for the younger generation of students, bringing all the goodies of their backpacks to a single app. View live demo.
Draw & Learn: Lou Auguste, Vin Gardner
My BackPack: Alejandro Saucedo