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Students At St. Luke’s School In New Canaan Take Part In 48-Hour Hackathon

St. Luke's School held a Hackathon recently.
St. Luke's School held a Hackathon recently. Photo Credit: Desiree Smock

NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- More than 60 students (and a few parents) participated as St. Luke’s School in New Canaan hosted its second annual 48-hour Hackathon.

St. Luke's welcomed 12 students and faculty guests from Wooster School in Danbury for the event on Friday, Jan. 15. The goal of the Hackathon is to immerse in creating something, anything — a toy, a game, a serious solution to a problem. Participants look to create something you wish existed but doesn’t — yet.

“We had only one hard-and-fast rule,” said St. Luke’s designLab Director and lead Hackathon “conspirator” Michael Mitchell. “Take your concept and try to make it a reality in the next 48 hours.”

Co-conspirator Jim Foley, Assistant Head of School for Leadership and Innovation, thinks back to the first Hackathon and said: “I never imagined looking at a room packed to the gills with kids, parents, friends all waiting to pull off these amazing creations.”

Mitchell agrees adding, “As far as I know, we are the only 5 to 12 school in the area that holds a true hackathon.”

Hacks ran the gamut from a unicorn with a light-up horn, to a lie detector.

“We wanted to build a hoverboard,” said seventh-grader Adrian Antonioli of New Canaan. “We could not get that to work, so we built a car that moved by using a big fan. That worked.”

The winning Middle School hack was a Raspberry Pi-based robot that streams live video to a website and can be wirelessly controlled from any point in the school. The robot was created by seventh-grader Jack Briggs of Darien.

The winning Upper School hack was an arcade-style Monopoly game created by 10th-graders Bilal Memon of Norwalk and Dominic DeMarco of New Canaan. The team wrote more than 1,000 lines of Java code, used an Arduino and buttons to interface with the players, and created a retro game console cabinet using the laser cutter.

One thing all the hacks had in common: failure. “A good hack does not have to work perfectly,” advises Mitchell. “In fact, it does not have to work at all. It’s the trying, the problem-solving that’s fun and hard. We hear so much about the importance of resilience."

St. Luke’s parent and trustee Mike Diliberto of New Canaan participated in the Hackathon with his son Logan, '18.

Diliberto, chief information officer at Priceline, said, “I believe it is the grit and determination that will serve children well as they enter university and later in life as they enter the workforce."

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