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Understanding the Student Hacker Revolution

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April 13, 2017

Understanding the Student Hacker Revolution

Students around the world are taking their educations into their own hands, giving up their precious weekends to learn, build new technologies, and share their creations with each other. Hackathons combine the best elements of peer to peer education, gamification, and project based learning, and educators can learn a lot by observing this movement.



April 13, 2017


  1. None
  2. Last year, more than 65,000 students gave up their weekends

    & free time to learn something new instead.
  3. Build something cool & share it with the world.

  4. Your students are taking their educations into their own hands

    at MLH hackathons and club meetings
  5. Understanding the Student Hacker Revolution. by @SwiftAlphaOne

  6. Hey! I’m Swift & I’m a hacker. I tweet from

    @SwiftAlphaOne. I email from
  7. Hackers are “Problem Solvers”. Developers, designers, makers, etc.

  8. None
  9. Major League Hacking’s (MLH) mission is to empower hackers. That’s

    why we became a Certified B Corporation in 2016.
  10. The Official Student Hackathon League. 65,000 Attendees 12,000 Projects 225

    Global Events 1 Community
  11. Hackathons are weekend-long invention competitions. “ ” — Swift

  12. Friday Students arrive by bus, train, and plane. They pitch

    ideas and form teams organically and get straight to work. Saturday They spend the next 36 hours intensely focused on building and designing their hack projects. There are only breaks for meals and fun mini-events. Sunday Students demo their project science-fair style. The Top 10 hacks get to demo on stage in front of the entire audience and a panel of judges to determine a winner.
  13. Arduino Borealis BitCamp (University of Maryland), 2015

  14. Workflow MHacks (University of Michigan), 2014

  15. Activities & Content for Student Hacker Clubs.

  16. When I got started, hackathons were mainly an ivy league

  17. I wanted to be a lawyer, not a programmer.

  18. This is me at my 1st hackathon in 2010.

  19. My story is not unique. This community is changing lives

    every single day.
  20. You don’t learn to hack by listening, you learn to

    hack by doing.
  21. I am gaining skills at hackathons that I am not

    getting in the classroom. “ ” Source: MLH Attendee Survey, December 2016 88% of Students agree…
  22. At hackathons, I was using Project Based Learning. In class,

    I was memorizing & repeating key terms.
  23. School is 80% memorization & 20% problem solving. Real life

    is 20% memorization & 80% problem solving.
  24. Hackathons rely on peer instruction, rather than standard lectures.

  25. Just 16% of Undergrad Computer Science students are Female in

    the USA. The average MLH Hackathon is 25% Female & that number is growing. Sources: Taulbee Survey (2015), MLH Attendee Survey (2015)
  26. At MLH hackathons & workshops, students have access to the

    latest & greatest technologies.
  27. of hackers use the MLH Hardware Lab at events. 70%

    Source: MLH Attendee Survey, December 2016
  28. Professional Mentorship & Corporate Resources.

  29. Hundreds of companies, big & small support this movement every

    year… & many more.
  30. Student Hackers are an Authentic & Welcoming Community.

  31. of hackers at any MLH hackathon are first timers. 50%

    Source: MLH Attendee Survey, December 2016
  32. Hackathons are extremely Interdisciplinary.

  33. Student hackers are making an impact.

  34. The student hacker community is grass roots & student led.

  35. Hackathons are fun, Computer Science class isn’t. We need to

    change that.
  36. How do you apply these lessons in your own classrooms?

  37. Encourage your students to get involved in the student hacker

    community today. #1
  38. Be your students’ advocate, champion, & challenger. #2

  39. Trust your students to solve the right problems and be

    creative. #3

  41. Happy Hacking! I tweet from @SwiftAlphaOne. I email from