Go Behind-the-Scenes of Our Curriculum Hackathon (and Pick the Winner)


Update: And the winner of our curriculum hackathon is… Alienbot: Build a Python Chatbot! Thanks to all who voted.

Codecademy’s Curriculum Team recently held our bi-annual internal hackathon. From 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, we hacked, snacked on dim sum, and hacked some more!

We’ve done internal hackathons before, but this time, we want to try something a little different. This time, the hackathon winner will be judged by (drum roll…) YOU! 😱

But before diving into the projects we built and opening the vote, we’ll explain what a hackathon actually is, and why you might want to take part in one near you.

If you want to jump straight to the projects:

  1. Intro to A-Frame
  2. Build and Host Your Personal Site
  3. Intro to Web Audio API
  4. Alienbot: Build a Python Chatbot
  5. Intro to Scratch
  6. Learn HTML Canvas
  7. Animate Your Name with Stimulus
  8. Intro to Logic Gates
  9. Beyond Programming: Product Manager
  10. Regular Expression Applet
  11. Codecademy Discord Server
  12. Circuit Playground Express
  13. Codecademy Zine

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is an event, usually hosted by a tech company, organization, or school, during which programmers, designers, and anyone else who might be interested can get together and collaborate on a project—typically within the span of one day.

Hackathons usually start with one or more presentations about the event. Then participants suggest ideas and form teams based on individual interests and skills.

After teams are created, the main work of the hackathon begins. The collaboration and creation stage can last anywhere from several hours to several days. At the end of a hackathon, there is usually a series of demonstrations in which each group presents their projects. And after careful consideration, winners are announced.

Over the past few years, hackathons have taken the tech industry by storm. Companies like Spotify and Airbnb, and schools like the City University of New York, organize hackathons regularly.

Today we’re having an internal hackathon with the theme “Building Belonging”! Follow along on Instagram #AirbnbEnghttps://t.co/ATIkqNDqIR

— Airbnb Engineering (@AirbnbEng) February 16, 2017

Why? Well, in the day-to-day of learning and/or working, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. As an organization grows, the more removed it gets from how it started—as a collection of people in a room together making cool stuff. Hackathons are a way to return to those roots, with focused time dedicated solely to building something new.

At Codecademy, we hold a hackathon twice a year. It is a day to flex our creative muscles, challenge ourselves, and learn new skills. We get to work with people we normally don’t get to work with and compete to win cash prize and, more importantly, bragging rights.

So let’s see what the Curriculum team built in a day! And don’t forget to vote at the bottom of the blog post for your favorite project.


1. Intro to A-Frame (Lesson)

A lesson that teaches you the basics of building VR scenes using A-Frame, an open-source web framework maintained by developers from Supermedium and Google.

  • Team: Zoe Bachman, Natalia Rodriguez, Alex Kuntz
  • Demo: (Lesson)

Build a VR scene in the browser and view it using a Google Cardboard 😮


2. Build and Host Your Personal Site (Lesson)

Everyone needs a personal website. In this lesson, you can create your own personal website in the classic Codecademy lesson format.

  • Team: Alex Clark, Emily Giurleo, Ian Munro, Jack Ratner & Tracy Teague
  • What’s next? Share your website from a Codecademy-hosted address.

3. Intro to Web Audio API (Lesson)

In this lesson, you’ll learn the fundamentals of creating sound from scratch using the Web Audio API. Web Audio can be used for everything from simple sound playback or sound effects to complex synthesizers and drum machines!

  • Team: Ian Munro
  • Demo: (Lesson)

Enjoy the soothing tones of J.S. Bach.


4. Alienbot: Build a Python Chatbot (Project)

Build a basic chatbot using Python and Regex while attempting to pass an “E.T.uring” test. The project also serves as a soft introduction to artificial intelligence.

  • Team: Mariel Frank & Kyla Brown
  • Demo: (Project)

Can you pass the “E.T.uring” test? 👽


5. Intro to Scratch (Lesson)

Scratch is a platform built and maintained by the MIT Media Lab that allows people to code using a visual programming language and share projects with others in the Scratch community.

  • Team: Mike Jewett
  • Demo: (Lesson)

6. Learn HTML Canvas (Lessons + Projects)

A course with 2 lessons and 2 projects introducing the HTML5 <canvas> element and how to interact with it using JavaScript. Recreate a work of art and draw your own optical illusion!


Bonus points if you know what Beautiful Soup is.


7. Animate Your Name with Stimulus (Lesson)

Stimulus is a small JavaScript framework for adding behavior to existing HTML code. At Basecamp, where it originated, it is used to enhance server-side rendered HTML.

  • Team: Adam Kaczmarek
  • Demo: (Lesson)

An update of the original Animate Your Name Lesson.


8. Intro to Logic Gates (Lesson + Project)

Computers can do amazing things: play chess, trade stocks, transmit messages across the world. At the lowest level, even the most advanced computer is responding to signals from an electrical current. Logic gates are responsible for determining how those electrical currents combine and diverge. These combinations form the basis for more complicated logic, but it all starts with 1’s and 0’s.

  • Team: Patrick Kovach-Long and Laura Breiman
  • Demo: (Lesson) (Project)

An interactive applet that helps you understand the differences between AND and OR. ⚡️


9. Beyond Programming: Product Manager (Video + Quiz)

We shot an interview with Josh Boggs, a Product Manager at Spotify with the purposes of introducing lesser-known, tech-enabled career options to Codecademy grads.

  • Team: Nick Duckwiler & Cole Romano
  • Demo: (Video) (Quiz)

Introducing lesser-known, tech-enabled career options to Codecademy learners.


10. Regular Expression Applet

A regular expression (regex) is, in theoretical computer science and formal language theory, a sequence of characters that define a search pattern.

  • Team: Tim Mullen

An interactive applet to learn and practice regex.


11. Codecademy Discord Server

Discord is a chat application designed for the gaming community, that specializes in text, image, video and audio communication between users. Its simplistic voice chat feature might be beneficial for learners to help one another debug and code review.

  • Team: Sonny Li

hello repl.it discord kappa 👾


12. Circuit Playground Express (Lesson + Project)

Plug in and play, right on Codecademy. Ladyada and Phil at Adafruit suggested that we build a CircuitPython course so here I am, trying to make that happen. In this lesson, you will learn about Circuit Playground Express, the perfect introduction to electronics and programming. There is also a project where you build an “808” Drum Machine with… fruits!


It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s an electronics course?! Plug in and play. Right on Codecademy.


13. Codecademy Zine

Last but not least, we’ve made a zine… together!

  • Team: Sonny & Co. (Curriculum, Krista, Toby, Guyen & Cody)
  • Demo: (Zine)

Thank you to everyone who contributed ❤

Time to vote for your favorite projects!


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We hope you enjoyed all the hack projects. We had a blast making them. Let us know what you think in the comments below and check back in a week to see the winner.

And now it’s your turn!

There are hackathons happening every month and there might be one coming up in your city. Simply throwing yourself out there and getting to an event is the hardest and scariest part, but we promise you, it will one of the most rewarding experiences in your programming journey.

Whether you are new to programming or an experienced coder, check out Eventbrite and Meetup to find upcoming hackathons around you and sign up today.

P.S. There might be a hackathon for Codecademy learners right around the corner, so stay tuned. 😜

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