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🌁 The behind-the-scenes of the first high school hackathon since the pandemic!

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Assemble ~ 5th August to 7th August

🎬 The Mini-Documentary ~ ✨ The Philosophy ~ πŸ“† The Event ~ πŸ«‚ The Attendees ~ πŸ’Έ The Budget ~ πŸ“Œ The Venue ~ πŸ“š Further Reading


Many Hack Clubbers in 2022 had heard about great IRL hackathons, but very few had been to one. They vanished when the pandemic hit, and went missing as the world emerged from the pandemic. Our 2022 summer project was to kick off a hackathon renaissance, together with Hack Clubbers.

To do this, we hosted the first major high-school hackathon since 2020, open sourced the entire event & launched a series of supports for high school hackathon organisers based on our experience.

The goal of this repository is to be a reference for high schoolers looking to organise their own hackathon. No hackathon is the same but we hope that within this repository you can find inspiration for you own special event.

Looking for a how-to? Read An Expandable Guide to Hackathon Organizing.

✨ The Philosophy

Hacker reverse engineering a power extender!

A hackathon is not an extracurricular or a club. It's not a class or a lecture. Hackathons are a place to build things for fun and meet others doing the same. Going into organising Assemble, we brainstormed what a magical hackathon looked like, from those brainstorms we developed the following framework for a great hackathon:

  • Hackers are prompted to create weird & wacky projects.
  • Hackers feel ownership of the event.
  • Hackers walk away with a set of unique and memorable experiences.
  • Hackers are provided with the opportunity to form personal connections.
  • Organisers are consistently involved and passionate at the event.

Read more about Hack Club's Philosophy ➚

πŸ“† The Event

Hacker demoing their project.

Assemble ran from 6PM on Friday to 12PM on Sunday. That's 42 hours to make our own. Creating a great hackathon, means designing a spectacular attendee experience as well as a great organiser experience. There are a fair few components to this including, but not limited to, planned (as well as unplanned) activities, judging, swag, food and ceremonies. The specifics of each at Assemble are detailed in their respective files in /the-event.

An dinosaur* makes an expected appearance at the event!

Read more in /the-event ➚

πŸ«‚ The Attendees

Everyone at Assemble cheering!

There's only so much organisers can do to make a wonderful hackathon, it is the attendees who bring a hackathon alive. As an organiser, your role in this process is to make sure everyone who needs to hear about your hackathon does, to convert these potential participants into attendees, to make sure they're all set for the event and then to inspire them to embrace the spirit of the hackathon. At the same time, you may choose to invite non-high schoolers to mentor and talk with the attendees. At Assemble, we wanted to make sure such relationships were casual and human, an approach you can read more about here.

Read more in /the-attendees ➚

πŸ’Έ The Budget

Assemble had a budget of $75,000, that's a large budget for a high school hackathon. HS hackathon budgets can range anywhere from $500 to $75,000. Whatever your budget is, you'll find a similar set of expenses will arise between all hackathons. Every expense made for Assemble has been open sourced here through HCB's transparency mode. As an organiser, you'll need to raise money, create an itemized budget (which accounts for the unexpected) and then spend the money raised as planned.

Explore our budget sheet ➚ or read more in /the-budget ➚

πŸ“Œ The Venue

The courtyard of Figma's office.

Since the pandemic began, finding a venue has became by far the most challenging aspect of organising a hackathon. Assemble was hosted across two floors in Figma's San Francisco office, situated in the Phelan Building on Market Street. Getting there took almost 40% of the time spent organising the event, however, when the event rolled around it was well and truly worth it. Figma's space was creatively inspiring and provided the perfect home for Assemble. As an organiser, you'll need to make pitches to potential venues, convince a venue to buy into your event, set up the venue for success and finish by making the venue provider feel appreciated.

Read more in /the-venue ➚

πŸ“š Further Reading

Below you can find a series of resources curated and created by the Assemble team that we hope will help you when organising your own events.

πŸ“ Assembling Assemble

The majority of work on Assemble was done in a month, from July 5th to August 5th. Every week of that month, @sampoder wrote a journal update on the Assemble organising process. Together they tell the story of how Assemble went from an idea to an event for 175 hackers.

πŸ‘‹ Issue #1: Getting Started in Vermont, July 8th

😫 Issue #2: Everything Gets Really Difficult Really Fast, July 15th

πŸ‘£ Issue #3: Gaining My Footing, July 24th

πŸŽ‰ Issue #4: Starting To See Light At The End of The Tunnel, July 30th

πŸ‘¨β€πŸš’ Issue #5: Seeing The Event Across The Line, August 5th

πŸ˜₯ Issue #6: Looking Back, August 13th

πŸ“Έ Photography

Across this repository, you'll find the fabulous photographs of Assemble by @kunalbotla, a Hack Clubber from Boston. The full album can be found here (all Hack Clubbers can use these photos in their projects!): hack.af/assemble-photos. We also have a collaborative album amongst attendees: hack.af/assemble-album.

Hackers assembled in the park.

πŸ’» Associated Repositories

β˜€οΈ In Years Past

We've previously ran other summer projects, learn more about them:

Year Project Description
2022 Assemble This repo!
2021 The Hacker Zephyr A cross-country hacker adventure on a train! (repo) (finances)
2020 Summer of Making $50k in hardware donations to teen hackers around the world + the creation of Scrapbook (code) (finances)
2019 Flagship Summit IRL meetup of high school hackathon organizers and coding club leaders (photos)
2018 HCB We built and launched the first version of HCB (read the 1st and 2nd announcement)
2016 Hack Camp Summer camp / further writing & testing workshops
2015 Hack Camp Summer camp / testbed for Hack Club's first workshops (content)(code)

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