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10 Best Hackathons for High School Students

Participating in hackathons is a great opportunity for high school students to deepen their understanding of technology and enhance their problem-solving skills. These events allow you to collaborate with peers on projects that tackle real-world challenges, showcasing your coding expertise and creativity. Such participation can be a significant asset to your college applications, demonstrating to admissions officers your technical abilities, teamwork experience, and dedication to using technology for social good. 

To help you get started, we have put together a list of 10 great hackathons for high school students!

The American Computer Science League (ACSL) is a distinguished organization that hosts a variety of computer science and programming contests for students from elementary to high school levels. These competitions challenge participants with a series of problems covering diverse topics such as algorithms, data structures, and software development. Designed to foster critical thinking, creativity, and logical reasoning, participants can tackle these problems individually or as part of a team. Held multiple times a year, ACSL contests allow students to choose those that match their interests and skill levels, providing an engaging and educational experience. This helps students develop robust coding skills and prepares them for future careers in computer science and technology. ACSL is generally inclusive, welcoming students with an interest in computer science and programming.

Read through our ultimate guide to the ACSL here!

Location: Virtual

Cost: Free

Challenge Dates: Multiple rounds with the final round being on 25th May, 2024 Saturday

Eligibility: Must be an elementary, middle or high school student. Please check if your school has registered for the competition.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

The NASA International Space Apps Competition is an annual event organized by NASA that invites participants from around the world to collaborate on a variety of space-related projects, including developing software applications and designing hardware solutions. Typically held over a weekend, the competition involves forming teams to tackle specific challenges set by NASA and its partners. These challenges cover a wide range of topics, such as space technology, Earth science, and space exploration, providing numerous opportunities for participants to demonstrate their skills and creativity.

The NASA International Space Apps Competition is known for its inclusivity, welcoming participants from diverse backgrounds and skill levels. While the event is open to a wide array of participants, winning is highly competitive. Teams that excel by developing innovative and impactful solutions have the chance to receive accolades and recognition from NASA and its partners, showcasing their problem-solving abilities on a global stage.

Location: California

Cost: Free

Group or Individual: You register as an individual and form teams later on.

Hackathon Dates: October 7 at 9AM - October 8 at 11:59 PM

Registration Deadline: July

Eligibility: Everyone is eligible to participate

MountainHacks 2024 is a 14-hour hackathon set to take place on March 16 at Mountain House High School. Open to all high school students from grades 9-12, this event accommodates participants with varying levels of experience, from beginners to advanced coders. The hackathon will feature coding challenges and project-building activities, providing an engaging in-person experience.

Attendees can enjoy free food, exclusive swag, hands-on workshops, and the opportunity to win prizes. A range of developer tools will be available to support participants in their projects. A basic understanding of coding principles and familiarity with at least one programming language is required. Through workshops and collaboration, students can enhance their coding skills, work on innovative projects, and potentially make significant contributions to technology or society.

Location: California

Cost: Free    

Group or Individual: Individual 

Hackathon Dates: March 16, 2024 from 7:15 AM - 9:30 PM

Registration Deadline: March 13, 2024

Eligibility: All High School students are eligible

Mateo Hacks invites you to participate in a full-day, in-person hackathon at San Mateo High School. Over the course of 13 hours, you'll progress through the stages of brainstorming, developing, and presenting your projects.

Having basic to advanced coding skills will be beneficial, depending on the complexity of the project you choose to undertake. Familiarity with programming languages such as Python, Java, or JavaScript, as well as knowledge of web or app development frameworks, will greatly aid in realizing your ideas. The event will feature workshops and mentorship opportunities, offering resources to help you learn new skills or refine your existing ones.

Location: San Mateo High School, California

Cost: Free

Group or Individual: Individual and Groups (1-4 people)

Hackathon Dates: March 23, 2024 from 8 AM - 9 PM

Registration Deadline: Unspecified

Eligibility: Any high school and middle school student can participate, no prior programming experience needed.

At HSHacks, you'll engage in 12 hours of coding, workshops, and entertainment. This weekend-long hackathon offers a great opportunity to build projects and connect with people. HSHacks welcomes participants of all skill levels, from complete beginners to experienced coders. You can choose to work solo or in teams of 3-5 peers.

The hackathon's structure encourages you to tackle real-world challenges presented by nonprofit partners, aiming to enhance their societal impact with your innovative solutions, or to develop your own ideas within the hackathon's theme. Whether you want to create a mobile app, web application, or a hardware project, the choice is yours. HSHacks features live, interactive workshops on various topics, including web development, artificial intelligence, and mastering APIs, providing valuable resources to help you succeed.

Location: California

Cost: Free

Group or Individual: Individual and Groups (1-5 people)

Hackathon Dates: April 20, 2024 from 8 AM - 8 PM

Registration Deadline: First come, first serve

Eligibility: Anybody in high school currently (grades 9-12)

HackPoly is a 24-hour hackathon hosted by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, for high school students interested in computer science and innovation. Participants collaborate in teams to create software or hardware projects within a set timeframe. The event offers opportunities to enhance skills, network with peers, and win prizes for outstanding projects.

Financial assistance is available for transportation and materials, and participants receive food and swag. All attendees must follow the university's code of conduct. HackPoly provides a supportive environment for students to explore creativity, solve problems, and gain hands-on experience in computer science, helping them build portfolios and contribute to the tech community at Cal Poly Pomona.

Location: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 

Cost: Free, Food will be provided. 

Hackathon Dates:  April 6-7, 2024.

Registration Deadline: NA

Eligibility:  high school students interested in expanding their skills in computer science

The DeveloperWeek 2024 Hackathon is the nation's largest challenge-driven hackathon, co-located with the DeveloperWeek 2024 conference. The event draws over 800 participants from the international developer community, both in-person and online, to collaborate on innovative projects. Participants can register via Eventbrite and Devpost, forming teams on Devpost to create mobile apps, web apps, or solve challenges set by the organizers.

Prizes include AWS credits, Codacy licenses, and DevNetwork Premium All-Access Passes for all 2024 virtual conferences. The Codacy challenge specifically encourages using static code analysis to enhance code quality and security.

Location: Oakland, California & Online

Cost: $449 to $2695

Hackathon Dates:  February 5-23, 2024 (Online) & February 22-23, 2024 (In-Person)

Registration Deadline: NA

Eligibility:  Open to all.

Team Size:  1 - 5 members allowed. 

Los Altos Hacks VIII promises to be a weekend full of creativity, technology, and community. The hackathon is run by students, and its goal is to get high school and college students interested in exploring the possibilities of technology. Participants get to use tools, seek mentorships, and attend workshops all day to help them make their ideas come to life while they code, build, and hack. Children from a wide range of backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to attend the event, which aims to create a positive and welcoming space for all. It’s not just about winning, at Los Altos Hacks VIII; you also learn, grow, and make strong connections in the tech community.

Location: Sunnyvale, California 

Cost: Free

Hackathon Dates:  April 6th – 7th

Eligibility:  high school students 

Group or Individual: You register as an individual or group. 

KleinHacks is a hackathon that inspires high school kids to explore the world of technology and creativity. This program aims to ignite young people’s interest in technology, test their problem-solving abilities, and inspire creativity. Under the direction of mentors and experts from the tech sector, participants collaborate in groups over the course of two days to create projects that tackle real-world problems. Workshops on a range of IT subjects are available at KleinHacks, offering an opportunity to learn new skills. Young innovators can explore their interests in technology, work with peers, and showcase their talents on this platform.

Location: Houston, Texas

Cost: Free

Hackathon Dates:  April 13th – 14th

Eligibility:  High school students 

Group or Individual: You register as an individual or group. 

10. HackMHS

Short Hills, New Jersey hosts HackMHS, a unique event for high school students interested in innovation and technology. This hackathon offers young minds a safe space to explore their interests in design, entrepreneurship, and coding. Participants are encouraged to work together and use their imagination to create projects that highlight their abilities and concepts. The event offers mentorship from professionals in the sector, courses covering a range of tech-related topics, and prizes that support students’ academic and technological endeavors. HackMHS is a community event that strives to inspire the future generation of tech leaders and innovators, not merely a competition.

Location: Short Hills, New Jersey

Cost: None

Hackathon Dates:   April 19th – 20th

Eligibility:  High school students 

Group or Individual: You register as an individual or group. 

If you’re looking to build a project/research paper in the field of AI & ML, consider applying to Veritas AI! 

Veritas AI is founded by Harvard graduate students. Through the programs, you get a chance to work 1-1 with mentors from universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and more to create unique, personalized projects. In the past year, we had over 1000 students learn AI & ML with us. You can apply here!

One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing research in cybersecurity or related fields, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: ACSL logo



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