I Won My First Hackathon-- the Sheroes-- Here's My Story

Donna told us that she had never attended a hackathon before and wasn't sure about what to expect. She had dabbled in block code and even C+, but nothing major. She considered herself a novice...then she won. We asked her to share her story, and here's what she said:

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I Won My First Hackathon-- the Sheroes-- Here's My Story

Donna @creativEdtechie 

I am a classroom teacher in Memphis. I also coordinate my school's STEM club. A friend of mine recommended that I attend the Athenatechne hackathon, Memphis' first all female hackathon.

I'd never attended a hackathon before and wasn't clear what to expect. I have dabbled in block code and even C+, but nothing major. I would be considered a novice.

The first night we mingled with various women and girls in tech, ate a lovely dinner, and listened to an inspirational keynote from Michelle Epps from Fedex Services. The hosts told us the theme of the hackathon, we could either develop an app for substitute childcare workers, or just create an app that solved a problem for a woman in our life. From there, we did a design thinking exercise to form teams if we weren't on one already. We had to pick a female superhero with whom we identified.  The hosts gave attributes to each superhero such as empathetic or organizer. I picked Catwoman (creative and innovator). We counted off and 1 member from each superhero category formed teams.

My team consisted of mostly strangers. There was one young woman who was an intern developer/coder, an artist, a graphic designer, a health care worker, a Fedex digital accessibility specialist, a tech business owner, and me. I came up with a cool name for our team, Sheroes. We did a brainstorming session to determine the problem and focus of our app. We learned of one of my team members', Helen, who had a friend who was visually impaired. Helen's friend struggled finding open accessibility seating on the bus.

We decided to create an app that would help people with visual impairments find empty accessibility seating on the bus. I came up with the name BlindSpot. We discussed each others talents and strengths. Each person worked on a specific part. Molly, the business owner, and Brenda, the healthcare worker, did research on the problem and worked on text for our website. Helen did a phone interview with her friend, the woman who was visually impaired. Helen also developed a voiceover program to accompany the app. Katrina designed an advertising video telling the blind woman's story. Christen, the developer/intern created the website, and Karina designed images for it. I designed a logo for the app and also helped with text and editing of the verbiage on the website. We all reviewed the items and finished the website, and app mock-up.


The next day, there was an intro to coding class and soldering class. I learned how to solder a cool light up skull. Next, there was a thought-provoking keynote from Britt Fitzpatrick, founder of MentorMe. After the keynote, we ate lunch and got back to work finalizing our website, video, and presentation. Everything was coming together.

The power of sisterhood helped 7 strangers come together to create a truly empowering app for people with visual impairments.



We went to the showcase and presented our work along with 9 other creative teams. They began to announce the winners. I was nervous but excited. Then, they called out our app, BlindSpot as the winner! I couldn't believe my ears! What a day! What an experience! I was so inspired that I am signing up to advance my coding skills. I will also coordinate a kids hackathon for the students in my school!