'Northland Hackathon' organizers aim for fun and better computer science

Monthly webinars start Friday, Jan. 27, in advance of April 15 hackathon


January 20, 2023

The inaugural Northland Hackathon in April 2022 exposed students from 20 Minnesota high schools to aspects of computer science that included building apps, writing code and exploring opportunities in tech.

That focus was important because, according to a 2022 report by the Code.org Advocacy Coalition (https://advocacy.code.org/stateofcs), Minnesota finished in last place when it came to the percentage of public high schools offering computer science courses.

This year, organizers are taking additional steps to introduce students to the fun of computer science. Four tech wizards – led by Cloquet native Luke Heine, who sold his software company last year – will host a free webinar on Friday, Jan. 27, titled, “How Hackathon can strengthen my college application.”

“Tech is one of the fastest-growing sectors, with a whole range of opportunities with it – from design to strategy to advertising,” said Heine. “The Hackathon is meant to expose students to not just coding, which we do, but to other career choices as well.”

Additional webinars in February and March will lead up to the second annual Northland Hackathon on Saturday, April 15. During that day’s free, daylong, virtual event, students will “hack” – basically, experiment and share creativity with other students and participating tech professionals to create something new.

Additional information and registration details for the Jan. 27 webinar and April 15 event are at http://www.NorthlandHackathon.com.

Leaders of the 73-year-old Marshall H. and Nellie Alworth Memorial Fund, which provides scholarships to northern Minnesota students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in studies related to mathematics, science (including computer science), research and medical fields, is helping promote Northland Hackathon activities.

“Luke Heine was an Alworth Scholarship recipient a few years ago and he’s turned the computer science world upside down with his creativity and drive,” said Patty Salo Downs, Executive Director of the Alworth Memorial Fund. “It’s great that Luke and others are giving back to the region, just as Mr. Alworth hoped when he established his scholarship fund, now in the form of inspiring students about the benefits and opportunities related to computer science.”

The Alworth Memorial Fund is available to students in 60 high schools, plus those who are home schooled, who live in these 10 northern Minnesota counties: Aitkin, Beltrami, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Lake, Itasca, Koochiching and St. Louis. Since its establishment in 1949, the Fund has distributed $54 million among 5,400 motivated young people. Its web address is http://www.AlworthScholarship.org.


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