Hackathon aims to get girls into tech and plastic out of the oceans

Hackathon challenge team

Published on 01 May 2019

An all-girl team from the University of Sunderland proved a force to be reckoned with as they created an app to help remove plastic from our oceans.

The five Computer Science students travelled to London to take part in an all-female hackathon which had an environment theme and also aimed to encourage more women into the technology sector.

And the Sunderland team did not disappoint, creating a unique app which tackles plastic pollution head-on.

Athena Hack is an all-women hackathon, for anyone aged 18+ who identifies as female/non-binary, supporting Plastic Oceans UK.

The teams were set a challenge to use their skills to create an app that would help solve the plastic crisis that is currently plaguing the world.

Michelle Merry, 29, who is the first year of her Computer Science programme, was one of the team members.

She said: “We designed an app which aimed to help the environment in a number of ways.

“Firstly, we devised a points system so people would be rewarded for every bit of plastic they removed from the ocean.

“Then, we designed a page which offered people environmentally friendly alternatives to everyday items. For example, we provided links where people could buy bamboo toothbrushes instead of their everyday plastic ones.

“And finally we created a chatbot that allowed you to shop in a much more environmentally friendly way.”

The hackathon aimed to champion female technologists and focus their skills to help solve one of the biggest environmental issues around.

The Sunderland team then showcased their idea before pitching it to a team of judges.

Michelle added: “We all had a lot of fun. This was the first hackathon I have taken part in but would definitely like to do more.”