SciOart Inc. & Dhat Stone High-Tech Learning Academy joined forces with several organizations to launch a revolutionary ground breaking project! “NASA Urban Tech VR HACKATHON, Compton vs Oakland” is a Virtual Reality (VR) 2 day Positive Programming Competition that was held at the Columbia Memorial Space Center. Different organizations including Black Chamber of Commerce and Bay Area Tutoring contributed on the Oakland side of the contest while ScioArt and Dhat Stone managed the Compton side. Events and after school programs like this will help to create the waves of innovation in neighborhoods where we need it the most.
Middle & High school students from Compton and Oakland,CA formed teams to design & build innovative projects such as mobile apps, websites, games and video campaigns that Solve a Social Problem.
The teams were evaluated on originality, storytelling, user experience and Added Value to Improving their Community by leading VR Pioneer, Mary T. Duda, CEO of SciOart, Gregory Panos, Personna Foundation, CEO- VR Developer Inventor Extraordinaire, and more.
Illustrious sponsors include HP, Warner Brothers, Facebook, Oculus & more as well as The Columbia Memorial Space Center located in Downey, CA. This space center focuses on Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) and teaches young people about aerospace with fun & hands-on experiences. President Ben Dickow was so generous to host the Hackathon (Marathon of Technology) at the Space Museum & Science Learning Center, NASA’s Official Memorial to the Columbia Shuttle that broke up on entry in 2003.
The Honorable Assembly Member Mike A. Gipson, 64th District, was delighted to see the enthusiasm on the kids faces as he walked in and surprised them with a, “Certificate of Achievement”. He also sent his awards to the contributors of the Oakland side. Gipson believes programs like this will unlock the door for kids to get out of unfortunate circumstances and create a future for themselves. He encouraged them to do great things in life and come back and pass it on to somebody else.
The theme radiating amongst the various celebrity speeches was to count on what is inside, believe in & LOVE yourself while always Pursuing your Dreams, no matter what!
Rickie Byars Beckwith, Founder/Director, Agape Spiritual Center Choir & HUB City Live led a back and forth sing along with the children on the piano, “I LOVE Myself So Much… and I LOVE You So Much… and You can LOVE You So Much”!
Ben Vereen, Tony Winning Actor, Singer, Dancer & Humanitarian serenaded the kids with,“The Greatest LOVE Of All” conveying to them that the only thing you can Depend upon is what is Inside of You. He feels, “we have to guide the youth toward the positive end, because whatever you focus on will show up in our lifetime. If you focus on the negative you will get negative, but when you focus on the positive it does show up and we need it now more than ever”.
Sir Keith Holman, Costume Designer to the Stars debuted a Special Video Tribute to his Friends, the late Michael Jackson & renowned Puppeteer Bob Baker. He shared how inspired he was by the kids and he wants to give back even more. He stressed the importance of having a mentor.
Holman emphasized without his mentor, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, who started & supported his career, he would not be where he is today. Wilson then took the stage and belted out, “Stop In the Name of LOVE”. Her nostalgic hit concludes with Think It Oover… Wilson went on to say, “When you go home and start thinking about the games and what you want to create, Keep Dreaming because Dreams do Come True”.
Kiernan Kit steered the all girls team to a First Place Victory with a VR Game,” Eco-Friendly Future.” In this game, “you start out with a Dirty Virtual World and It’s your Mission to Clean It Up!
You fly all over the world traveling from city to city to make the Environment Sustainable. Our Ice Glaciers are melting due to the high levels of CO2, but you have the Power to Change the Outcome. “Eco-Friendly Future” is full of real life Sustainable Technology Solutions & is generated to accommodate those with disabilities giving Happiness, Ideas and Knowledge to those who feel hopeless”.
At the Heartfelt Closing Celebration, Kit’s girls “killed it” and took The Grand Prize: Oculus Headsets, Warner Bros Marvel Gear and $2,000. in cash. The 2nd & 3rd place winners also won cash and headsets. The Hackathon sparked interest and wonder in these bright young students in STEM education helping prepare them for the tech industry & the digital economy with computer coding.
Gregory Panos, expressed “the Real Winning is the Journey and the Opportunity to Grow and Participate for all levels of competency. Everyone’s a Winner, there are no Losers.” The Children are using their Imagination to Find Solutions for a Better Tomorrow!