Coding, planning, development, design, collaboration, and healthy competition are the elements that make up great hackathons. It takes careful planning, partnerships, and patience to not only participate in a hackathon, but to host one. The other half of the puzzle is the participants; the more engaged they are, the better the hackathon can ultimately be.
In college I ran RIT48. It was a 48-hour hackathon to pitch, plan and launch a web or mobile startup. We started off with a bang: publicity from the papers, television interviews, press, and global attention. We hosted over 100 participants on average and raised a ton of money. Not only did it show off the talent of our participants (our students), but it also inspired a number of other hackathons at various universities and companies. It was a great resume builder and helped a lot of companies find great talent.
RIT48 spawned a tremendous number of awesome projects. Some which may have never happened without this event. It helped open opportunities for students, companies, sponsors, and the school as a whole.
With all of that said, I think the environment is ripe for hackathons to take place in not only colleges and universities, but also high schools.
More high schools than ever are introducing or maturing computer science courses, robotics, design, and even e-sports. Hackathons are amazing opportunities for learning, expressing creativity, and are a lot of fun. They help students express themselves outside of the classroom and aren't limited to the rigor of a standard class. They help bring together the student body's intersection of liberal arts, tech, and creativity.
There's no better time than now to start hosting hackathons at high schools. It'll take schools that pride themselves on leading the forefront of education and student development to make this work. If you work with a school, for a school, or are student/parent attending a school, please reach out. I'd love to get the ball rolling.