Crown Heights

Teens excel at Youth Tech Challenge

Brooklyn students develop apps to help community

March 29, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Teens worked on teams to create apps to promote strong communities during the day-long technology fair at Medgar Evers College. Photo courtesy of state Sen. Jesse Hamilton’s office

More than 50 students from Central Brooklyn got the chance to learn how to code, create apps and solve problems at a Youth Tech Challenge held at Medgar Evers College on a recent Sunday.

The theme of the event, “A Community Builds,” allowed participants to explore the various issues facing their communities and to take a step toward solving those issues with the use of technology.

The students took part in a “hack-a-thon,” during which they worked in teams to formulate ideas, create apps and develop websites and then presented their ideas to a panel of judges.

The purpose of the Youth Tech Challenge was to give students the chance to cultivate their skills in coding and problem solving and to learn about career opportunities available in the fields of information technology and coding, according to state Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D-Crown Heights-Park Slope, Sunset Park), who sponsored the event along with Medgar Evers College and the company Digital Girl, Inc.

The day-long tech challenge took place in the Medgar Evers College Library at 1638 Bedford Ave.

The participants worked to answer the following questions:


∙         What apps can you build to help your community?

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∙         When you picture a promising future, what do you see?

∙         What changes do you envision in your community?

∙         How will your day-to-day life be improved?

∙         What would you build to make the future you foresee a reality?

∙         How can you use your imagination to create a website app that paves the way for a more prosperous community?

The Youth Tech Challenge was the second forum that took place during the month of March as part of “The Campus,” an education and enrichment program developed by Hamilton.

The previous event, which took place at Middle School 61 in Crown Heights in early March, featured Dr. Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan, a senior engineer at NASA, as the guest speaker. The presentation was made possible with a partnership with the Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture. 

“The Campus” began in Brownsville in the fall of 2016 with a program that linked the Howard Houses Community Center, the Brownsville Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, and two local schools, Brooklyn Collaborative Middle School and P.S. 298 Dr. Betty Shabazz School.

The Brownville site of “The Campus” still operates today, offering programs in science, technology, engineering, arts and math during school hours and after-school. The program also includes health and safety advice, as well as career development. 

“The Campus” expanded into Crown Heights in March of 2017, with classes in computer science, poetry, language arts, and wellness. The program is presented in partnership with Digital Girl, the Green Earth Poets Café and Urban Asanas Yoga Studio.

Digital Girl, Inc. was founded in 2014 by Executive Director Michelle Gall, a digital marketing and branding expert. Its mission is to encourage inner city youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“We are motivated by the United States’ overall lag in producing an adequate number of STEM professionals and the under-representation of women and people of color,” a statement from the company reads.

The Teen Tech Challenge also received financial support from State Farm.  

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