Longwood’s hackathon is helping grow interest in computer science on Long Island


This Long Island school is helping the next wave of students get into computer science.

Longwood High School on Tuesday hosted its third annual hackathon, a beginner coding competition aimed at getting more students involved in the STEM program.

Steve Beecher, a math and computer science teacher at Longwood, said the goal is simple: “We want to have students get that spark and fall in love with computer science.”

The event, which drew around 200 students, teaches students how to write code using a programming language called Scratch.

“After the students have learned the basics of programming, we break them up into teams of two, and they attempt to write 15 to 20 computer programs for the rest of the day,” said Beecher.

The students can then win prizes, all donated by local businesses in the area.

This year, the Longwood Hackathon invited other school districts on the island to participate, with Comsewogue High School sending 10 students.

Alumni come to help judge, and the high school paper covers the event.

“It’s important for more students to get involved in computer science,” said Beecher. “Nearly everything you do is computer science or computer-based. There’s jobs and not enough qualified workers.”

Since launching the hackathon, Beecher mentioned that it has helped grow the computer science program at Longwood, with student retention now 8% higher than before the program started. With the increased interest, the computer science program will transition from a half-year class to a full-year class next school year.

Top: Photo of the 2022 Longwood Hackathon. (Courtesy)

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