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Girls4Tech - Design Jam & Hackathon Workbook
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Coda goes to Girls4Tech

How American Airlines and Mastercard used Coda to run their hackathon
Have you heard our theory that the maker generation is going to
how software is made, used, and distributed? Well we won’t go much into it here, but suffice to say, when American Airlines invited us to the
, we got very excited to see our theory play out.

Girls4Tech is a program devoted to getting more girls into STEM. MasterCard started it five years ago, and so far, more than 400,000 girls from 25 countries have participated. We couldn’t wait to see what this year’s women would make ofーand make withーour doc as powerful as an app.

On May 5th, we gathered in a Dallas convention center with fifty daughters of American Airlines employees, and received the hackathon challenge: To brainstorm, prototype, and pitch solutions for a UN sustainable design goalーall with Coda (what a surprise ;)).

A couple observations right off the bat: Participants felt immediately at home in Coda docsーthe digital doc surface being a time-honored staple for classroom learning, writing, note-taking… and the occasional note-passing.

Secondly, they were quick to discover and play with the building blocks of Coda, like tables, buttons, and embeds. We like to think of our product as Minecraft for docs, and they definitely got that.

The Girls4Tech Hackathon

So let’s talk about what the girls did at the hackathon.

On Friday, the girls broke into groups with each group, led by two mentors. They picked a
and started by brainstorming a specific problem or opportunity that they wanted to address and identifying data sources that would help them flesh out their app. After the girls had left, the data science volunteer squad kicked off the hunt for data sources and built out a “data section” in each team’s notebook.

On Saturday, it was time to get building. Using some of our favorite app-building patterns, the girls prototyped their app ideas in Coda. What did they build? So many things. My personal favorites:
Pet adoption matching system
Exercise tracker
Harry Potter-inspired game that helped players build financial literacy.

Then the girls pitched over 1,000 adults in the conference hall — presenting their app’s value proposition, market addressability and most excitingly an app demo in Coda. The audience was captivated. If this was Shark Tank, every single shark would have been fighting to chance to fund one of these teams.

Run your own hackathon? Here’s a doc to help.

Want to run your own hackathon? We created this doc to guide your participants through an entire hackathon: focusing on the core design thinking process, then giving space for prototyping an app, and eventually presenting it to the judges.

We’ve used the Global Design Jam’s challenge from this year:

How might we design out plastic waste from our everyday life as citizens and consumers?

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