One year of MAC(Monthly App Challenge) Journey 🙌

Who We Are:

Our Monthly App Challenge (MAC) Team mainly consists of a group of high schoolers who connected through our passion for coding to provide a platform for everyone which includes both adults and kids where they can refine their coding skills and apply their coding knowledge to real-world applications. As technology becomes an integral part of the development of the world, we want to make sure that there is a space for people who are interested in the tech world to come together and grow. Our MAC Workshops were created to provide opportunities to a global audience no matter their background to make sure that everyone can pursue their passion successfully.

Workshops:

Workshops are one-hour-long teaching sessions and are held on every Saturday, from 11–12 am pst. We created this weekly workshop to share our coding knowledge with people from all around the globe as well. For every month, we have a new theme that matches our apps and we create a video and slides with the theme as well. We assign the video and slides making tasks to different MAC members each time, so we all can have the experience of making them, which can help us in the future and keep us from depending on one person too much. We also have other tasks such as making flashcards with the current theme and updating our website theme page. In essence, this training and dependency on one another helped our MAC team to stay flexible and consistent when one cannot join or work due to other conflicts while making all of us being skillful.

Global MACathon (New Project):

Global MACathon was a newfound idea where we decided to mimic a hackathon, but intertwine our goals through it. While there are creative aspects to our regular monthly challenges, we wanted to see what our audience was capable of and wanted to create on their own without preassigned themes. We allowed more freedom by taking away our limitation of creating a web app or sticking to a provided theme and asked for some sort of visual element as if they were promoting their own monthly app challenge. The MACathon didn’t bring as much of a large audience as we expected, but people were able to try out the skills they learned from our previous workshops and showed us something we wouldn’t have thought of. It was a great opportunity for us to try something new and from it, we learned what to improve on if we ever choose to try a similar event again in 2022.

Challenges:

A challenge we had was the problem of retaining people so that they would end up consistently coming to our every workshop instead of just one or two times only. We needed to keep people interested, so we had to make each workshop more exciting and have them look forward to the next one. We also had to retain the new people coming into the workshops every week and come up with new material to teach so that returning attendees wouldn’t get bored. Another challenge we had was having to plan each month’s app challenge as well as the workshops. We meet weekly to discuss how our workshops are going, what improvements to make, how to make our workshops more interesting, what the next month should be like, assigning work to everyone, and much more. However, coming up with a meeting time that worked with everyone’s busy schedules was a struggle itself, but we managed to make things work, even if some people arrive later or leave early. As they say, if there is a will then there is a way.

Outreach

Social media has always been our platform for getting to meet people, and we can’t say it’s easy getting to meet the right set of people for our workshop. But, due to our strategies, consistent hard work, and experience, we have been able to reach out to a large number of people since we first started. As we grow into a larger community, we will continue to expand our reach and get a larger audience for our MAC workshops.

Future Plans:

We are planning to expand the program to other parts of the world as well. Because most of the current team members are based in Silicon Valley, participants who come from Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world have a harder time managing their time. We are continuously planning and testing new programs, rewards, and others to raise the retention rate of participants, hoping they would join the team, and create a local MAC team based on their area and time zone. We are also experimenting with languages other than Javascript. In our June 2021 challenge, we tried building a simple game with Unity. In the future, we might create other projects with different languages or different topics, such as Unity, Python, AI, 3D, and beyond, bringing out skills to test and see what we are capable of building.

Reflections:

Insiah:

I was introduced to the ACF MAC Team through Benjamin, one of the founders, and was privileged enough to be able to become part of the team. Since the founders had already created a solid foundation, I was lucky enough to work together with my incredible new team to grow and improve our MAC workshops so that we could continue to try to provide opportunities for people of all ages to pursue their passion. In terms of myself, I am always improving and expanding my own coding knowledge through my talented teammates as well as the attendees at the workshops. We are very fortunate that people like Yoonjung and Abraham are always willing to give us feedback and advice on improving our workshops, which allows us to expand and host efficient workshops that are worthwhile for the attendees.

Julia:

When I look back on the first MAC workshop I attended, I remember how stunned I was when one of the MAC co-founders, Benjamin, told me with such a nonchalant gesture to teach one of the attendee groups on the spot for the workshop. At first, I was flooded with worry because I was unfamiliar with the workshop format and had no access to any of the resources needed to teach. Ever since then, working as a part of the MAC team has proven to be a great opportunity to improve my skills to teach code that both others and I have written to a wide range of audiences. It has put me through obstacles that I otherwise never would have encountered and has helped with my ability to problem-solve quickly. The skills I learn and the experiences I go through here are something I will always carry with me.

Sara:

The ACF MAC team is a really astonishing team. Everything is organized so well and the team is working together so hard. I still remembered how pleased I felt when one of the MAC founders, Zora, told me that I could have an opportunity to spread my knowledge about coding by teaching people who are interested in computer science.

Yaseen:

When I first joined ACF MAC, I was stunned by the great teamwork everyone displayed. Not only was everyone participating in my first meeting, but we were all considered leaders within the team. Since joining, I found myself surrounded by competent and hard-working people through and through. There was always stark communication, which worked best for me because when it comes to group projects, one of my biggest fears is the lack of communication. Every month, our hard work for developing new themes and challenges always pays off, and we see its effect through our diligent participants who come to our workshops every week.

Harrison:

It has been a fun experience ever since I joined the team. With such talented teammates, I was able to use my coding knowledge to build applications, while gaining new knowledge and experiences every day. I would teach the participants what I have learned, or used during the process of building the applications, and one could argue that teaching is the best way to review the information. By teaching participants around the world, I was able to consolidate my understanding of code and algorithms. During teaching, I might receive questions I did not know, which provided me more opportunities to learn and improve my coding skills.

Sachi:

I learned different ways to teach the same materials, and it was fun. I had to think a lot about the ways to teach that would make the class interesting. I also had to read the sample code I didn’t write and be familiar with it before the first workshop each month. It helped me see the ways the other teachers wrote the same code. For example, I wouldn’t have written a flashcard the way some other people would have. Because of that, I learned a new way to code the same thing and got used to it. Another thing I really liked was teaching other people what I knew because I felt like I was helping someone know more. It helped me too because when they asked questions about something I hadn’t done in a long time, it refreshed my memory. They would also ask about things I didn’t know, and it helped me improve my coding knowledge.

Alex:

Ever since I joined ACF MAC, I have gained more experience in teaching others and gained more knowledge by doing it together with my friends Quinn and Rrishi, who have helped me a lot. Along with this, I’ve gotten to meet more people who have introduced me to the MAC workshops and weekly meetings. The team is being organized by recording meeting minutes which helps with keeping us on track with tasks and notable upcoming events. Finally, this opportunity has given me a boost in confidence because I am frequently talking to crowds and helping them.

Yoonjung:

ACF MAC has had a second team since last September after the founders team retired from daily operations to writing the MAC ebook series and video making. The second team’s responsibility was as important as the founders’ team since they had a huge void to fill in with their own styles and unique programs each month. From my observation, the second team went through a rather decent amount of trials and errors but never gave up and manifested an amazing amount of teamwork and solid performance as a proud successor team.

Quinn:

Joining MAC as an instructor has been an eye-opening experience. It has shown me a community of coders of all different specialties. Each coder or programmer has a unique skill that I hope to unlock and MAC gives me the opportunity to unlock their potential. It has also built me up, figuring out how to deal with avid coders and their mindsets. They have taught me things that I didn’t know. MAC helps me along with my dream of making games with a team.

Abraham:

It was hard to believe the kind of opportunities ACF offers to coders when I newly joined this time last year and joining the community was indeed one of the best decisions I’ve made! Eager and ready to contribute significantly to the growth and to also be part of the manifestation of the vision of the community, I took up the role of the Social Media Manager/Marketer(i.e to broadcast, manage and market our virtual events online). It’s been an amazing and adventurous experience so far, learning a lot and getting to meet other amazing teammates to work alongside. I intend and hope to stay with this amazing community for as long as possible. I promise to grow, flourish and contribute my quota to the growth and realization of the community’s vision.

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Applied Computing Foundation

Applied Computing Foundation

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