A hackathon held by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County this October turned software programming into child’s play. More than 80 students ages 13 to 18 worked with mentors at the event, hosted at Ringling College of Art & Design, to create apps aimed at advancing learning. “Watching the student presentations and interaction with community mentors is nothing short of inspiring,” said Education Foundation president Jennifer Vigne. So which students coded their way to victory?

WINNER  Team Carma

This team took the top prize with an app billed as “Uber for students,” connecting pupils with approved volunteers to shuttle them to school-related events. In addition to each member winning an iPad Pro, judge (and SRQ Editor in Chief) Lisl Liang and Education Foundation of Sarasota board member invited the team to present Carma to the Grid Un-locked transportation symposium hosted by the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. “I originally signed up for the Hackathon because I have an idea for an app that will assist disabled and medically fragile persons during an emergency situation. My group won because we listened to each other’s personal stories, connected and worked to everyone’s strengths.” —Team Member Bear Mancinni

RUNNER-UP  Team Focalpoint

Students built an app upping the features of the district Blackboard and Remind services. The combination of services earned team members an Amazon Echo prize pack. “When I joined Hackathon, I was concerned our work would not be applicable to the real world. Thankfully, by the first 30 minutes, our team was on track to creating a product that would benefit students, teachers and the school board. I’m so happy I got the chance to affect the community in which I live in a positive manner.”Team Member Matthew Hinman


A special prize also went to members of Team Legacy for building a choose-your-own adventure learning app. “The whole experience was amazing, and I wish that it would’ve lasted longer. Going forward, I want to try to pursue a future in game design and animation, so the whole thing was right up my alley. I am ecstatic to do this again next year.” —Team Member Laura Sloan

“Students participating in the Hackathon pick up and develop a lot of new skills, but one of the most significant experiences lies in the incomparable exposure to the different aspects of business, design and code. Because the event is so immersive—taking place over 48 labor-intensive and teamwork-oriented hours—the students learn to think more broadly about design and tech and explore ways to build these skills and apply them to a cause they care about.” — Mentor Andrea Cannistra