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JOLTcon 2023 Sparks Youth Interest in Technology Skills

Updated: Mar 14

Kennedi speaks on her co-partnered app design, AME

Looking towards the future and the innovations that will come is something teens come by naturally. Yet, pathways to engaging in the development of technology aren't as straightforward. Through programs like the Futures Fund, creative arts and technology become closer within reach to youth in the Greater Baton Rouge area and beyond.

This April, JOLTcon hosted a two-part teen conference, one part Hack-A-Thon competition and the other part technology and digital asset-based workshops.

Hack-A-Thon Competition

The Hack-A-Thon competition is the first-ever youth-driven app development competition in Baton Rouge. This competition built upon the previous Futures Fund Hack-A-Thon training workshop held the month prior, allowing teens to develop a conceptual app tackling one of two prompts. Teens in groups of 1-5 competed head to head in ideate, mock, design, and pitch an app that would either (1) Help teens communicate with friends better or (2) Connect music with social media more seamlessly.

5 groups participated in this competition, made up of students from all around Baton Rouge area high schools. The standouts of the competition were the app AME and FiveLanguagesinOne.

Ultimately, only one winner of the $500 cash prize could be named, and a hard decision was made. AME, with its beautifully fleshed-out interface and feature descriptions, won out in the competition. Sister and brother teamed together in this competition, excitedly bringing home the cash grand prize.

Judges Casey Phillips, Madeline Bonton, and John Ozenua watch the teams compete.

Instructor Joshua Newbins beams with the raffle winner at JOLTcon.

AME weren't the only winners of the day. After attending the workshops, teens got entered into a 2-winner raffle of a laptop and printer combo, donated to JOLTcon by Cox Communications and the Southern University Law Center Technology Clinic.

See AME's presentation here.

JOLTcon Technology Workshops

Those looking to learn, rather than compete got a in-depth look at the many sides of technology. From the graphic design, branding, and user interface side to the new frontiers of AI technology and Web 3.0, teens learned skills and understanding of the emerging digital landscape.

Workshops included Intro to Cybersecurity, where Teressa Calligan introduces teens to the ways to stay safe in the digital age where scamming, password hacks, fraud, and identity information are always at risk. Kirsten Roberson walked teens through registering their burgeoning businesses with the Louisiana Secretary of State. Nina Tran guided teens through UI/UX (user-interface and user-design) and digital design. Joshua Newbins and Madeline Bonton hosted an interesting discussion on the morals and ethical dilemmas we are facing with the new AI technology with guest panelists Mo Vij, Marina A. Biragova, and Jaymes Durriseau.

This event and competition were made possible through the support of Cox Communications, Giraphic Prints, Unum, and ThreeSixtyEight. Futures Fund plans to continue presenting reoccurring workshops and training in the future, so stay tuned!

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