Tinkering for Change With the Computer Science Club



Computer Science Club hosted their third Tinker for Change.

Kristen Chun, Head Copyeditor

Tinker for Change is an annual all-day hackathon that has been hosted by the Computer Science Club for the past three years. High school students gather during the hackathon, working individually or in teams to devise a solution for a social justice issue within the CRLS community or the Cambridge community. Students have the entire school day to come up with a plan and have the opportunity to present their work at the end of the event. The hackathon, which began as an annual tradition in 2021, has been an excellent opportunity for students to not only get involved in coding but also get to meet new people and collaborate with their fellow peers.

This year, the Computer Science club hosted Tinker for Change at the end of May. The club collaborated with the MIT Office of Government and Community Relations (MIT OGCR) and the Scratch Foundation team to organize yet another successful hackathon. Members from different CRLS clubs, including Marine Conservation club, Aspine club, and Cybersecurity club, also collaborated with the Computer Science club by presenting their goals and thoughts on tinkering for change.

The MIT OGCR has also been sponsoring Tinker for Change since its pilot.

The Register Forum asked individuals from MIT and Scratch to share their thoughts on working with the Computer Science club to host Tinker for Change and talk about how their specific work correlates to the mission of Tinker for Change: to educate others on how technology can be used to create social change and to create a welcoming environment for all students interested in coding.

Jacy Edelman, the Creative Learning Manager at Scratch, told the Register Forum, “With a focus on social justice and community engagement, the Tinker for Change Hackathon is a perfect example of equitable creative coding opportunities that are at the heart of our work.” Edelman also mentioned that she gets to “collaborate with coworkers on how to develop tutorials and guides that [they] hope will inspire teachers to facilitate Scratch and creative learning in their own classrooms.”

The MIT OGCR has also been sponsoring Tinker for Change since its pilot. Rohan Kundargi, the K-12 Community Outreach Administrator at the MIT OGCR, told the RF that he “works with scientists and educators to create opportunities that empower teens to discover their voices and explore their passions.”

“It’s one of my favorite annual partnerships because it is wholly designed, planned, and run by high school students!” Kundargi added.

Working with both the Scratch Foundation and the MIT OGCR has allowed the CRLS Computer Science club to improve the experience of participating in Tinker for Change by featuring multiple guest speakers and providing a variety of swag to all participants.

A participant of the hackathon, Sebastian Prasanna ’24, told the Register Forum that, “My favorite part had to be seeing other people’s presentations and what other people thought of. It was cool seeing all the ideas other people thought of.”

Hannah Chun ’23, one of the co-organizers of Tinker for Change and a co-president of the CRLS Computer Science Club, stated, “Hosting this hackathon for the past two years has been one of my most memorable experiences here at CRLS, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with my peers and share my passion for computer science with others.”