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STAB Teen Hackathon seeks community partners, volunteers

st. anne's-belfield schoolIn partnership with Mozilla, St. Anne’s-Belfield School will host its second annual SPARK high school hackathon on Jan. 28 and 29. In preparation for the event, SPARK  organizers seek community mentors, partners, and sponsors to participate in learning and making throughout the weekend.

“Community volunteers were an invaluable part of our success with last year’s hackathon,” noted Zach Minster, co-coordinator and instructor of computer science at the School. “We are excited to collaborate with a dynamic, global organization like Mozilla this year. Mozilla shares our commitment to inclusivity and increased participation of girls and students of color in local tech communities. This is Mozilla’s second year partnering with us to design an incredible event.”

“With the SPARK Hackathon we really want to help students of all backgrounds and experience levels get connected to our thriving tech community,” said Kim Wilkens, co-coordinator and instructor of computer science at the School and founder of local non-profit Tech-Girls. “We are looking for sponsors to not only help underwrite the event, but to also suggest problems the students can help solve, lead workshops to teach students new tech skills, and mentor teams as they work through solving problems on the way to a final project. ”

Mozilla will work with SPARK in a new role this year to co-design the event and focus its learning and making on Internet-connected devices, or the Internet of Things (IoT), an emerging field in need of diverse voices, designers, and stakeholders. High school attendees will learn how to connect devices like lights, speakers, and screens to apps that can be controlled from the Web. No previous experience is necessary; mentors will offer beginner-friendly workshops as part of the event.

WillowTree and QIM are returning as sponsors along with supporters including Charlottesville Women in Tech, Tech-Girls, and Charlottesville Business Innovation Council.

“Mozilla is thrilled to partner with SPARK and St. Anne’s-Belfield School to invite a diverse group of teens to work on real-world problems that help develop their web literacy and let them practice open innovation by inventing new IoT devices with inexpensive, widely available tools,” says Mozilla curriculum developer Chad Sansing. “We know that the diversity and imagination young people bring to the Web are key to promoting a healthy Internet open and accessible for all.”

To find out more about the second annual SPARK hackathon or submit a student application, visit or contact Student applications to the hackathon will be accepted through Dec. 16.