TABC sent a delegation of 12 students to the second annual Kohelet Hackathon (“KoHack”) at Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Philadelphia, a two-day intense competition where students work in teams of four to develop an app to fulfill a prompt given to them a few days in advance. TABC’s three teams, accompanied by faculty chaperone Aryeh Tiefenbrunn, competed against a total of 11 teams from six different yeshiva high schools.
When the teams arrived at Kohelet on Sunday morning, March 19, they were asked to brainstorm their ideas before opening laptops and starting to write code. This year’s prompt asked the students to consider the experience of yeshiva high school seniors as they consider their options for a year in Israel, and create an app that helps to ease the transition. Ideas ranged from quizzes that help 12th graders learn about Israel programs that match their preferences; to budgeting tools that help students in Israel navigate becoming independent when they’re far from home for the first time; to social connectivity solutions that make sure students can keep in touch with their friends from high school who went to other programs in Israel.
On Sunday afternoon, the students heard a presentation on “The Art of the Pitch” from Amir Goldman, a growth investor at Susquehanna Growth Equity, and learned how to deliver a succinct, clear pitch presentation that would convince the judges of the need for their app. On Monday afternoon, after more than 12 hours of work, it was time for the students to present their ideas. Each team of four students split into two pairs—one pair delivered the business pitch to a panel of judges who assessed the idea of the app, while the other presented the code itself to a team of coding experts so it could be judged on innovation, complexity, readability and modularity. After both sets of judges conferred and selected the overall best apps, TABC Team 1—consisting of seniors JJ Guralnik, Avi Kohn, Max Rabinowitz and Yossi Sherman—was awarded first place!
Each of the students on the first place team earned certificates for scholarships to Yeshiva University and Reichman University (IDC Herzliya), both of which sponsored the event. All of the students who attended KoHack gained valuable experience in collaborative teamwork, agile software development and identifying creative solutions to complex problems. TABC’s STEM program aims to inculcate these skills in students so that they are equipped to be creative problem solvers and positively impact their communities and the world.