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Over 100 High School Students Participate in #KleinHacks

Over 100 High School Students Participate in #KleinHacks
KleinHacks was Klein ISD’s First Student-led Innovation Challenge

What could go wrong when you have over 100 student participants and volunteers, computers, and laptops that need wifi or LAN access, and lock them in a high school for 24 hours? Evidently, nothing!

A team of juniors and seniors from Klein High School wanted to create and lead an opportunity for their peers to participate in an invention marathon. KleinHacks “aims to inspire the next generation of innovators” from the Klein ISD. There was an open invitation to any high school student who had an interest in technology and wanted to “learn, build, and share their creations over the course of a weekend in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.”

On April 21st and 22nd, Klein High hosted the inaugural KleinHacks Innovation Challenge. There were student teams representing every high school. Although there were some teams who had advanced coding skills and have created apps and websites before, there were many teams who had their first opportunity to learn about design and coding languages.

Volunteer judges gather behind a group of students presenting their final KleinHacks project.

Students created games, Alexa skills, prototypes, and websites. Teams met with other groups to learn from each other and assist with the problem-solving portions of their respective products. They competed in various challenges including a talent show, cup stacking, and designing an app that would help the ordering process for managers at Raising Cane’s, a sponsor of KleinHacks.

Participants won prizes throughout the weekend. KleinHacks was not only an opportunity to learn but also a chance to “connect with companies and their developers throughout the event.”

During the final hour of the event, teams presented their creations to judges that included industry experts, computer science teachers, corporate sponsors, Klein High Administration, and Klein ISD Executive Directors and Teaching & Learning Team members.

Many of the products were based on real-world concerns and ideas that the students were passionate about. The KleinUnited Team from Klein Forest created a website and social media accounts that would connect all five Klein high schools so that they can collaborate with each other for events. Several teams created products that would help with monitoring children behavior including a “nanny” that would sing lullabies based on how loud the baby is crying or send notifications when a child uses certain key terms.

The winning team, comprised of students from Klein High and Klein Oak, created an app called “Drive Lock” — the teen driver must plug in their locked phone to the car system before Drive Lock will allow the ignition process to begin.

Debbie Pennington, Klein High Associate Principal, was the faculty mentor for the KleinHacks team and guided the student leaders throughout the process.

“The students worked for many, many months on creating this event which to our knowledge was the first high school hackathon in Texas, Pennington said. “With this being the first time that many of the students that attended had ever even heard of a Hackathon then we had no idea how it would turn out. The weekend far exceeded our expectations. So many students told us that they had no experience coding prior to the event and ended up loving it. This event would not have been possible without the support of so many from across the district as well as businesses in our area that very generously donated items.”

For more information about KleinHacks, please visit their website:

KleinHacks Leadership Team:

Juan Requena (12th) — Program Director
Brandt Swanson (12th) — Marketing Specialist
Taylor Schorlemmer (12th) — Database Specialist
Kevin Mechler(12th) — Financial Coordinator
Michelle Zhang (11th) — Venue Organizer
Zain Sheikh (11th) — Volunteer Coordinator
Derick Jacquez (11th) — Volunteer Coordinator

KleinHacks Mentors:

Debbie Pennington — Klein High School Associate Principal
Jane Mast — Klein High School Secretary


Klein ISD is AAA in Academics, Arts, and Athletics.

Best Public Schools in Texas
Klein ISD has an established 84-year history of excellence and innovation in education with unique pathways for EVERY student in our care to ensure learners are college, career, military, and life ready. With recognition for STEM, athletics, fine arts, and academics from highly-esteemed organizations, it is clear that Our Shared Vision of every student entering with a promise and exiting with a purpose is a reality for EVERY student who walks through our doors.

About Klein ISD
Klein ISD is a school district in Klein, Texas, located in northwestern Harris County. The district spans approximately 88 square miles and serves more than 53,000 students in 33 elementary schools, 10 intermediate campuses, one high school program of choice, and 5 high schools.

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