Hack:bit 2020 is bringing the ideas of students and undergraduates to life

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Hack:bit 2020, a virtual national hackathon for school and university students in Sri Lanka organized by STEMUp Educational Foundation. In case you’re lost, The STEMUp Foundation is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to inspire and engage students to become interested in pursuing Scientific, Technological, Engineering, and Mathematical (STEM) degrees and careers. The organization’s mission is fulfilled through the programmes and free resources they offer to the South Asian community.  

The goal of its Hack:bit 2020 programme is to bring the creative ideas of young Sri Lankans to life. Registrations are currently open and the final deadline is the 15th of August 2020. The competition is open to university students under the age of 28 and school students under the age of 19. The initiative is focused towards nurturing innovations that would bring us closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include Good Health and Well Being, Life on Lands, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Climate Actions, Quality Education and Decent Work as well as Economic Growth. 

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(Image credits: STEMUp Educational Foundation)

The first edition of the competition Hack:bit 2018,  was held two years ago. At the time, it was the first 24-hour national level Micro:bit-based hackathon. Hack:bit 2018 was organized by micro:bit SLUG, a child organization of the STEMUp Educational Foundation. For the pre-hack, more than 80 submissions were received. At the final round held at the Trace Expert City, the best 3 innovations in the school category together with the best 3 innovations in the university category were selected and presented with awards following detailed evaluations by an experienced panel of judges.

The Hack:bit 2020 competition is now underway with the Semi Finals scheduled to be held on the 15th of August 2020. The Grand Finals and Awards Ceremony will be held on the 5th of September 2020, where the winners will be announced. All participants of Hack:bit 2020 will be in teams of 2 or 3 members and are allowed to use any tools and programming languages they wish to develop their products. 

An expert panel of judges will evaluate all entries. They will be evaluating all ideas based on a number of key factors. They include uniqueness, innovativeness, implementation, business value and sustainability. One of the key highlights is that all participants will have the opportunity to work closely with industry experts in order to obtain their valuable insights and further improve on their ideas. 

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The panel of judges evaluating the final submissions of a team at Hacker:bit 2018 (Image credits: STEMUp Educational Foundation)

From the initial contestants, a shortlisted list of 5 school teams and 5 university teams will be invited to the Final Round and Award Ceremony. Exclusive prizes will be awarded for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in both categories (school and university). Additionally, there will be 4 special prizes for the “Best Micro:bit-based Implementation”, “Best Arduino-based implementation”, “Best Scratch-based implementation” and “Best MIT App Inventor-based implementation”. 

Expressing his views, Shameera Prajapriya – Project Director of Hack:bit 2020 commented, “We are excited to put together Hack:bit 2020 following the success of Hack:bit 2018. This is the second time we are organizing this highly-anticipated national level hackathon for school students and university undergraduates. It provides a platform for them to showcase their creativity and innovations through a disruptive product. It has a lot to do with exploration and experimentation for the participants who will brainstorm to develop an idea into a successful real-world product. They will gain immensely from the whole experience as they compete with each other to come out on top. Insights from industry experts will educate them on how and why they need to keep on asking the right questions and pushing the boundaries in order to succeed.”

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