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These Girls Won Top Prize in Hackathon for Creating Virtual Study App

Reported by Liku Zelleke

On July 24, four girls – N’Dea Jackson, Adia-Simone Rhoden, Marissa Rivera and Autumn Noel – were awarded $2,000 as winners of the Black Girls Code Hackathon.

Their winning creation was Mana, an app that allows students to host virtual study sessions, share notes and catch up on missed assignments if a student were absent. It also allows students the use of study tools like flashcards and even has a break-time alarm in case they get too immersed in their work.

Black Girls Code Hackathon is an event, held over three days, in which girls between the ages of 12 and 17 take part and try to solve problems by building apps. In the recent event, 16 teams of girls were given an assignment to create apps that were focused around “project humanity” and “social justice.”

The four girls won by creating one that would help them in their studies while the first runner-ups created another, also impressive, app that supports students who have been bullied.

Fourteen-year-old N’Dea Jackson from Philadelphia, said, “We went through lots of ideas and everyone suggested some. I suggested education because my dad works in that field so I knew more about that topic than the other ones. We thought some of the other topics available, like bullying and the environment, would be popular and we wanted to stand out.”

She added, “I love how [with coding] you can build whatever you want, and there are no limitations because you have all the controls. I’m fascinated by how apps work and by learning how to make them function properly.”

For now, Mana is still in demo version. The girls are looking for a company “that might want to help them turn into a fully functional app.”

Black Girls Code was launched in 2011 by Kimberly Bryant who wanted to introduce basic computer programming skills to girls of color in grades 6 to 12.

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