Local Students Plan Hackathon-style Event


Students work during a previous Codeday event in February. Photo by Janet Fang, courtesy of Selynna Sun

The words ‘coding’ and ‘hackathon’ are nothing new to Silicon Valley, but not every student is given the opportunity to learn about coding in the classroom. This is where StudentRND and CodeDay step in. On Saturday and Sunday May 21-22, the Silicon Valley sector of StudentRND will be hosting CodeDay at the Galvanize San Francisco space in the SOMA district. CodeDay is a hackathon-style event for students of all skill levels that has taken place since 2011.

Over her high school years, senior Selynna Sun has been involved with CodeDay and is currently the assistant regional manager for the event. As assistant regional manager, Selynna is in charge of managing the student-based team, as well as sponsorships or logistics of the event.

“It’s a 24-hour event where people can build anything they want,” senior Selynna Sun said. “We allow students to build anything they want with code [and] art. It’s like a hackathon but… we focus more on the learning and community versus corporate sponsors.”

Unlike other coding events, CodeDay is completely student-run without the assistance of outside sources.

“It’s a team of students around the Bay Area,” Selynna said. “We have both college and high school students who are organizing it.”

The student-run team hosts three CodeDay events a year, which gives about three months to plan everything for each event. Even if a student is completely new to coding, CodeDay gives students the opportunity to explore coding in a setting outside the classroom.

Selynna originally became interested in hackathons and CodeDay because it offered a different sense of community than school organizations or clubs.

“I got interested in hackathons because there’s a whole different vibe in the community that’s there,” Selynna said. “Also, it’s just really fun to be able to build things from scratch, and watch others do the same.”

With every hackathon, her passion for coding has grown. Each event allows Selynna to share her enthusiasm, in hopes of sparking other students’ interest in coding.

“A goal for the entire team and our national organization is to get people to start coding and stay coding,” Selynna said. “Especially with beginners we try to [give]  opportunities [for them] to start coding now. With CodeDay, hopefully people get that experience of being able to code.”

In the future, the team looks forward to increasing the number of students involved in CodeDay. The event allows students nationwide to learn something that may not be available in their high school curriculum.

“We’re trying to expand CodeDay,” Selynna said. “The other CodeDay events around the nation are a little bit smaller than ours and since we are in the Bay Area, it’s natural for it to be a little bit [larger]. We are continually trying to expand.”