Park View’s ‘Astroducts’ win Most Accessible App at Hackathon

On November 12th 2022, the Air and Space museum in Chantilly held its annual Hackathon, and Park View’s team, the Astroducts, faced four other teams in a competition of who could create the best application for a K-12 audience at one of the museum’s exhibits. The Astroducts: Tara Vidyababu, Lily Thomas, Lucy Thomas, and Stephanie Nguyen, were determined not to leave the event empty-handed. 


Hackathon is an annual event that takes place at the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum. This year’s event featured Park View, the Academies of Loudoun, and the Governor’s School. Each team was taught by and worked with professionals to design and create an application for an exhibit at the museum. These applications were then presented and judged by workers at NASA, and the best designs were presented with three awards: most innovative, most accessible, and best-overall. The team that won best-overall, which ended up being the governor’s school, got to work with professionals to implement their app into the museum.


“Mrs. Harris, who’s a computer science teacher and also a math teacher here at Park View reached out to us, asking if we were interested in [the] Hackathon,” explained Lucy Thomas, a freshman here at Park View High School.


At Hackathon, the Astroducts were first given their mission statement and an explanation on what exactly they would be doing at Hackathon. The goal: to create an interactive app for an exhibit targeted for a K-12 audience. The Astroducts selected the World War II exhibit.  


“We really wanted to emphasize user credibility and make sure our app was easy to use for both adults and children,” stated Stephanie Nguyen, a freshman here at Park View High School. 


The application the girls created for the exhibit were little space ships which visitors would click on, revealing facts about the exhibit. To do this, the Astroducts worked with teams from Figma, a collaborative design software company. This gave the girls a hands-on experience and opportunity to think like real software developers. On top of that, the girls got behind-the-scenes experience on creating an application. 


After finishing their application, it was time for the Astoducts to present, and for their app to be judged. This is when the girls were starting to feel the nerves kicking in. 


“Some days I was like oh my gosh we’re going to win this and it’s going to be so amazing, and other days I was like we’re going to fail this so bad and it’s going to be embarrassing,” said Lucy Thomas. 


The rest of the Astroducts also shared this doubt and nervousness. The Astroducts were unsure how their application may have done, or if they might’ve missed some criteria needed for the application. However, there was also some excitement and hope shared in the group. 


“We were pretty excited about our prototype. We worked really hard on it so we were hoping to do well,” stated Lily Thomas, a Junior at Park View.


The Astroducts received the award for most accessible application. This award came with T-shirts, a tour of the museum’s restoration chamber, iMax tickets, and flight simulation training. 


“I feel happy [about the award] considering the fact that our team was two freshmen and two juniors, and considering the fact that this was our first Hackathon and we were still able to get an award,” explained Stephanie Nguyen.


As well as winning the award for most accessible application, the girls went home with the prize of new knowledge. The Astroducts agreed that Hackathon taught them a lot, from public speaking skills to developing and coding, which would be sure to help them in the future with many STEM related activities.


“We all sort of agreed that hopefully the Astroducts would reunite, but it kinda depends on the classes everyone is taking, but [Hackathon] is an annual thing at Udvar-Hazy, so hopefully we could do it again next year!” exclaimed Lucy Thomas.