Four Weeks to the Hackathon!

Oh, hello again. Another week down and just one month until our hackathon!

If you haven’t yet done so, snag yourself a ticket by visiting And speaking of registration, here’s what we’re focused on this week:

Participants are Registering!
We’re thrilled that registrations are rolling in! We’ve already had designers, developers, teachers, and healthcare professionals sign up for tickets, due in part to our outreach efforts, which have included contacting local museums, early childhood centers, libraries and other organizations to help spread the word, as well as asking our designers and developers to reach out to their professional communities.

Parent registration is lower than that of the other participants, so going forward, we need to focus more of our outreach efforts there. We’ve designed a flyer to send around that we hope will help entice parents to register:


Staff and Volunteer Roles
To make sure the hackathon runs smoothly, we need a great team to support the participants throughout the event. We’ve spent some time this week thinking through what roles we’ll need during the hackathon:

  • MC: The master of ceremonies! This person will set the tone at the beginning of the hackathon, getting participants excited to think creatively and work collaboratively. This person will also keep everyone on schedule, helping participants transition from one part of the agenda to the next.
  • Facilitators: A handful of people are needed to work with the groups of participants, especially during the brainstorming phase. These facilitators will promote positive collaboration and help to make sure that all voices are being heard. During the designing and building phase, the facilitators will be less involved, likely taking the role of floaters (unless the facilitator is a designer or developer, as is the case with some of our staff—they’ll join their group as a participant).
  • Floaters: Less hands-on than the facilitators, the floaters will move from group to group, sitting back and listening or jumping in as needed. This group can include stakeholders or partners who want to see the hackathon in action and listen to the ideas being generated.
  • Coordinator: Someone (or someones) who handles logistics, such as setting up for the next part of the schedule, passing out supplies, taking in the lunch deliver and setting out snacks, and handling anything that pops up unexpectedly.
  • Judges: This oh-so-important group of individuals will listen to the final pitches and select the winners. We’re thrilled to have secured four fabulous judges, including an upper-level National Head Start Association administrator, a pediatrician, a museum educator, and an early childhood educator/ administrator.
  • Documentarians: If an event wasn’t photographed, did it really happen? One or two individuals will be focused on capturing photos and video to use in subsequent reports to stakeholders, and in the materials we will create to help others run their own public media hackathons.
  • Registration: Last but not least, we’ll need someone to sign in participants at the beginning of the event. This is a fairly straightforward task, and is the only one we don’t think we can cover with the staff that we have, so we plan to recruit a volunteer or two to help out.

Tables and Chairs and Coat Racks, Oh My!
As we mentioned before, we’re fortunate that we have a state-of-the-art events space located just a few floors down from us in the WGBH building. Having this space is saving us a ton of time and money. But we’re learning that getting a venue is more than just securing the physical space itself. This week, we put together a detailed megamemo outlining our schedule, expected attendance, and exactly what we need from each group involved in WGBH events, from the team that sets up the furniture, to the folks that help run the slideshow presentations in the auditorium, to the design team that put together art for the digital displays, to the security and cleaning crews. The megamemo then goes out to the head of each department so that the details are known to all well in advance of the event. Drafting up a document like this can frankly be overwhelming, but sorting out these details ensures that we have what we need when we need it, and that the hackathon goes according to plan.

Phew. Not too bad for one week! Next up, we’re thinking about the all-important topic of food. Where will we get it from? Can we find a partner to donate it? Our budget is limited and saving a few dollars on food will definitely help. Whatever the case, we want to make sure our participants are well fed so that they can be thinking creatively and not about their growling stomaches. We’ll also be finalizing the schedule for each of the two days and starting to explore brainstorming techniques to get the creative juices flowing.


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