Viks complete Hack-a-thon threepeat

Siuslaw’s Hack-a-thon “Team Fenrir” members Brayden Holcomb, a freshman, and Hannah Edman, a junior and team captain, work on the design of their competition-winning video game. Siuslaw sent two teams to codeORcreate’s three-day Hack-a-thon. (courtesy photo)

Siuslaw High School designers and coders excel in first competition of season

Dec. 17, 2021 — From Dec. 3 through Dec. 5, the Siuslaw business and technology program competed in the annual codeORcreate Hack-a-thon. This is the third consecutive year the team has entered this competition. This is also the third straight year SHS has taken 1st place honors in the category of game design and development.

In the Hack-a-thon, teams of up to five come together to create a tech-based solution for a community challenge. Teams are paired with an industry mentor and have 48 hours to build a website, app or video game, and then present their final project to the panel of judges and fellow participants. The event is sponsored by Elevate by Connected Lane County, Wayfair, Emerald Broadband and Palo Alto Software.

Siuslaw fielded two teams of designers and coders for this annual hack-a-thon; Team Váli, which consisted of seniors Hayden Houlihan, David Stegers, John Corser and Mark Olson and junior Lucian Murphy, and Team Fenrir, consisting of juniors Hannah Edman, Noel Hernandez and Kaden Harms, sophomore Taylor Spencer and freshman Brayden Holcomb.

The competition began on Dec. 3 at noon. From there, student teams chose to design and code either a video game, a mobile app or website addressing the challenge. Both Siuslaw teams chose to design and code a video game addressing conservation and quickly got to work deciding on a platform for coding the game, choosing a game genre and delegating roles for team members.

Coders on both teams decided on Scratch for their game coding engines; designers chose Illustrator and Pixelart for visual design and Bandlab and BeepBox for sound effects.

Teams were given mentors from Eugene/Springfield area tech firms who advised on how to proceed with coding, teamwork strategies as well as other valuable soft skills used in today’s business world.

“I’m very proud of how our teams worked together along with the industry professionals,” said Coach Patrick Looney, a Siuslaw teacher. “They really got a sense of what it’s like to work together to achieve a common goal.”

Day two of the competition was a long one. The teams worked all day Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Siuslaw High School’s business tech lab, to bring their technical creations to life.

“Both teams gelled really well when it came to teamwork,” said Coach Eddie Mielke, another Siuslaw teacher. “This year, students were able to identify strengths within their team straight away, coders got to coding and designers jumped on the digital graphics and sound.”

Team Fenrir’s captain, Edman, was also impressed.

“Everyone pitched in where they were needed,” she said.

Sunday, the final day of the competition, was where all their hard work came together. That morning, the teams returned to the tech lab to put final changes on their projects. After a quick workshop on professional presentations by an industry expert, teams went to work.

One by one, the competing teams took turns presenting their game, app or website through a Zoom call with other teams, sponsors, mentors and judges.

All the hard work paid off. Team Fenrir took first in game design while Team Váli was second.

“I was impressed with our teams’ ability and willingness to delegate responsibilities,” Mielke said. “This was especially evident during presentations. Students expertly explained their role in the project. The judges could see the collaborative effort by our student coders and designers, how everyone did their part. I just love it when a plan comes together.”

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