First launched in 2009 in the United Kingdom as Young Rewired State, Young Rewired State NYC was held in June of 2013 at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. The two-day hackathon brought together over 50 teens and tweens for a design challenge focusing on the creation of digital apps that use open government data to address issues, problems, and challenges faced by the City of New York. Program participants worked with 15 mentors who were programmers, designers and educators, all of whom volunteered their time to help youth through the ideation and prototyping process for app development. Over the course of the two days, youth (ranging in age from 7 to 18) built working digital products and prototypes, featuring at least one dataset available through New York City’s NYC Open Data initiative.
The main goals of Young Rewired State NYC were to engage youth in learning coding and design, to develop youth computational literacy skills, to foster civic engagement through open government data, and to build community among youth and mentors alike. The free program was a geographically distributed collaboration between Museum of the Moving Image (who hosted the event), Hive NYC and Young Rewired State.
Organizational Impact and Discovery
This project was the Museum’s first youth program to feature the use of open government data. It gave the Museum’s education team valuable exposure to how youth think about, respond to, and are inspired by such data; it was also the first time the Museum—which has hosted several hack-a-thons for adults—presented a hack-a-thon for a tween/teen audience. Recruitment efforts proved successful in drawing a diverse cohort of young people of varying backgrounds and experience, including youth already connected to the Museum and Hive NYC, as well as youth from after-school programs in New Jersey and Maryland. Mentors were drawn from across the city, with professionals joining from industry and education organizations such as the Coder Dojo, Flatiron School, Maker Ed/Maker Corps and Socrata.
Although the existing model presumed that youth had prior coding experience, the YRS NYC project team was intent on creating a varied approach that enabled youth with different experiences and interests to make and learn together. The diversity of experience was a strength but also a challenge, since participants had a range of skills, competencies, and interests that needed to be addressed throughout the event.
The partnership flourished when each partner found their particular area of expertise and took charge of designing that component. In addition to providing logistical support as the host venue, Museum of the Moving Image educators worked with youth on questions related to ideation, design and creative collaboration; Hive NYC helped youth to develop their computational and web literacies and also led periodic “check-ins” with design teams throughout the weekend; Young Rewired State wrangled mentors, event logistics and proffered their event model and digital badging infrastructure.
“By bringing Young Rewired State to NYC, you brought a completely new experience. In the past, we never had the opportunity to participate in a hackathon or similar event, because most were geared towards college students. We had never competed in or even heard of hackathons for younger students, let alone high schoolers. YRS NYC was our first exposure to this type of event and our first experience in such an environment.
As the day continued, we learned about what YRS was about, and we strengthened our resolve to develop an application that would be both practical and intuitive….From those two days alone, we expanded our knowledge of web development by so much and made new connections that will give us more opportunities in the future.” -the youth makers of the app CityScenes
Photos from the two-day challenge where teens worked together and with industry professionals to build apps, develop websites and create prototypes using open government data.
Descriptions and prototypes of 15 projects created by youth at the YRS two day design challenge. Seven of the projects were chosen as winners.
Museum of the Moving Image enlisted its graphic team to develop separate outreach materials to attract industry professionals as mentors for the event.