Interview with Generate STEAMinds, Winners of the TecHacks Hackathon

Interview with Generate STEAMinds, Winners of the TecHacks Hackathon

The TecHacks Hackathon is aimed at bridging the the gender gap by enabling female students to find passion in computer science and problem solving. All 552 hackathon participants self-identify as female or nonbinary and are high school or undergraduate students. A total of 119 projects were submitted.

I was able to reach out to Carissa Tang from the Generate STEAMinds team, for an email interview. Generate STEAMinds was a winner of the Qoom Challenge portion of the hackathon. The team consists of four members from around the world: Alyzee Soza and Amy Palm, rising juniors from SoCal; Andrea Gonzales, a college student from the Philippines; Carissa Tang, a rising senior from Toronto, Canada.

Q: Can you tell us about your project and how you came up with the idea?

C: Our project, Generate STEAMinds, is an online platform that provides educational resources for STEAM learning and promotes creative innovations through idea generators. This project was inspired by our passion for not only STEM, but also the arts, and the relative lack of holistic learning platforms of this kind online. We also value innovation greatly but know that at times, especially during this pandemic, it can be challenging to think creatively. We hope that through Generate STEAMinds, students are inspired to create new projects from random, unique ideas while also being intellectually stimulated.

Q: How much coding experience do you have?

C: I was first exposed to coding in grade 10 through an Introduction to Computer Science course, where I learned Python. However, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 quarantine when I continued programming and began to learn HTML/CSS/JS on my own!

Q: Why did you decide to participate in this Hackathon?

C: I decided to participate in this Hackathon because it was an all-female event—I loved the idea of being in an empowering community with other driven and passionate females. Oftentimes in the past, I was intimidated and discouraged from participating in Hackathons due to feelings of imposter syndrome. However, TecHack’s emphasis on inclusivity despite being a beginner coder made me feel very welcomed, so I knew I had to take this opportunity!

Moreover, since being quarantined at home, I have been able to explore my interests and realized how much I loved coding! This Hackathon was the perfect opportunity for me to expand my knowledge and interest in the field.

Q: Did you run into any problems or challenges during the Hackathon? How did you resolve them?

C: The greatest challenge we faced during the Hackathon was the conception of our project. Since this was our first Hackathon, we didn’t know what to expect nor what was expected of us. We decided to focus on picking an idea that we could realistically execute while still being usable and having an impact. Other issues included our time zone differences and our unfamiliarity with code collaboration, however, through our strong teamwork and ability to compromise, we quickly overcame these problems. We were able to even use our time zone differences to our advantage and work practically 24/7 on our project! This facilitated the building process as my team members and I were able to take turns coding on one Qoom account. We also assigned each person to a specific page so that the collaboration process would run more smoothly.

Q: How did you learn about Qoom? Why did you decide to use Qoom?

C: We learned about Qoom through this Hackathon and the workshop hosted by Kiae! When we heard there was a Qoom challenge, we knew we wanted to take part.

Q: What did you use Qoom for?

C: As Qoom is an instant web development environment, we used Qoom to host our project’s website. Using HTML, CSS, and Javascript, we coded our project in our Qoom space. Qoom allowed for each of us to work on our assigned pages independently while also being able to preview everyone else’s pages.

Q: What was your overall impression of Qoom?

C: Qoom is a minimalist platform that includes all the necessary and useful features such as real-time preview and Git integration. I found Qoom to be very beginner-friendly with a nice guide that really helped me to easily navigate through the platform.

Q: How does Qoom stand out from other coding tools?

C: I loved that with Qoom, we had a personal server in the cloud that mimics a Google Drive or DropBox.

It was a very organized way of displaying all our files, and since it was similar to Google Drive, the familiarity made it easy for me to use!

I also loved that there were different ways of previewing our website, whether it was in a new window or side by side with my code. The random URL address for our Qoom space was also a fun addition! I also loved that each page had a QR code! It is such a unique feature and made my life a lot easier. :D

Q: What recommendations or tips would you have for a first-time developer using Qoom?

C: As a beginner coder myself, I found Qoom to be relatively simple. My biggest tip would be to look through the guides under Qoom’s support page as it really helped me learn how to use the platform very quickly for the Hackathon! I would also suggest taking advantage of Qoom’s features, such as real-time preview, which was super helpful as I got to see my actual project while I was editing.

Q: What is next for your project?

C: My team and I are planning on expanding Generate STEAMinds to include a greater database of resources and for a greater range of people, as well as implementing new interactive features such as educational games.

Qoom was a proud sponsor of the TecHacks Hackathon. If you are planning on hosting a hackathon yourself, please contact us!

You can check out Carissa and her teams project, Generate STEAMinds, here to see how they used Qoom.

Try Qoom yourself here!

Originally written by Yanran Le, August 26 2020