Abigail Holmes is back in the swing of school, but the Huntington High School sophomore really never stops learning, even during summer vacation.
Ms. Holmes is always ready for an intellectual challenge. So she attended ByteHacks Hackathon, a 24-hour all-girls coding event held at Spotify’s New York City headquarters.
“I discovered the event with my friend, Smiti Shah, who is captain of Bethpage High School’s robotics team,” Ms. Holmes said. “We were looking for an all-girls STEM event, as we are both passionate about encouraging more women to get involved with science and technology.”
The Huntington sophomore found Spotify’s headquarters to be the perfect location for the program. “It’s a beautiful facility with extremely interesting technology and a great workspace,” Ms. Holmes said. “More girls were there than I expected; perhaps around 50 in total. We were supported by a group of fantastic mentors, including a developmental advocate engineer from Spotify and a software engineer from Vimeo.”
Huntington sophomore Abigail Holmes.
ByteHacks Hackathon organizers encouraged participants to work either individually or in a group they formed and create a project consistent with the theme of “social impact.”
“While a portion of the event was competitive, many girls chose to instead focus on the workshops, lectures and mentors available to them and work to cultivate their computer schools rather than submit a project,” Ms. Holmes said. “I went into the event with zero coding experience and was just eager to learn whatever I could.”
It didn’t take long for Ms. Holmes and her friend, Ms. Shah to begin brainstorming. “We began to develop a platform in which international students could be paired up with someone from another country and learn a new language through a shared interest,” she said. “A biomedical major in Argentina could be paired up with a biomedical major in the U.S. and the two would be able to learn each other’s languages through similarities in their common interest. While we eventually decided that focusing on utilizing the resources available to us rather than working on a specific project would be more beneficial, the two of us had a great time working together.”
Over the course of the 24-hour program, Ms. Holmes was able to attend a variety of classes and begin performing some introductory work in Java and HTML.
Ms. Holmes is taking a collection of Advanced Placement and honors level classes this year. She’s an administrative assistant with the Class of 2020’s student government elected leadership.
The teenager serves as the Huntington robotics team’s outreach coordinator. Ms. Holmes is responsible for overseeing all of the group’s volunteering and interaction with the community, as well as its partnerships with other robotics teams, both locally and globally. “Examples of some of our recent projects include continued mentorship of Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School’s FIRST Lego League teams, as well as our collaboration with Splashes of Hope, a local charity that dedicates time to painting murals in hospitals, and working with children persevering through illness,” she said.
Ms. Holmes was recently accepted into the Junior Academy, a branch of the prestigious New York Academy of Sciences, which allows high school students to collaborate on STEM projects at an international level.
The Huntington sophomore was one of 780 applicants from a pool of 6,000 representing 51 countries to be accepted into the Junior Academy. The organization offers members a variety of challenges, for which students from around the world team up to create solutions. Past projects include a water filter, which utilizes nanotechnology to dispense potable water and a wearable device that tracks vital biometric data in order to improve infant health.
“This season’s challenge details have not yet been released, but two of the themes are ‘Future of Buildings and Cities’ and ‘Sustainable Consumption,’” Ms. Holmes said. “I have been enjoying interacting with members from other countries, especially those who speak Spanish, as I completed Huntington’s dual language program.”