- Building Connections -

Computer Science Is Not About Coding

What’s a common thought about computer science? Computer science is HARD, it's BORING, it’s for NERDS who like typing a bunch of COMPLICATED SYMBOLS on their computers. But as it turns out, NONE OF THESE MISCONCEPTIONS could be further than the truth!

CS is for INNOVATORS. For CREATORS. For PROBLEM SOLVERS. For people who want to make a DIFFERENCE in their communities.

Watchung Hill's 3rd annual hackathon is an event focused on more than learning how to code.

We intend to inspire attendees; they will see firsthand how musicians, chemists, and artists are using CS as a powerful tool. Through our diverse selection of 12 workshops, including our escape room, participants will test their abilities to think creatively and work with a team. In our design contest, ideas to change the world will be celebrated and rewarded (with generous prizes!).


Yes, registration costs $20 but includes lunch & dinner, a custom t-shirt, and the chance to win cash prizes! Please complete online registration and payment by clicking below.

If you are not redirected to the google form, try this link: Hackathon Google Form


Why come to hillsHacks?

Can you spend a day without using some form of technology developed in the last 5 years? It would probably be difficult - technology has completely changed the way we live our lives. Regardless of your experience, you will learn something new at hillsHacks about how computer science is being used all around us - often in things we take for granted! All students grade 6 and up are welcome.

What if I don’t know anything about coding or computer science?

No problem. We love beginners! There's a lot to learn at hillsHacks, and we hope you will leave inspired.

I’m an expert at coding. What do I get out of this event?

Take a look at some of our advanced workshops like "Intro to Functional Programming", "Problem Solving with CS", and "Introduction to Basic Algorithms: Unraveling Fibonacci Numbers"!

This sounds like a long day, will there be food?

Of course! All participants will be given lunch and dinner. Snacks will also be available throughout the day.

Do I need to bring my own computer?

You are welcome to bring own computer. If you forget yours, don't worry, we have Chromebooks for everyone to use!

Sounds great! Where is it?

It's at Watchung Hills Regional High School, 108 Stirling Rd, Warren, NJ 07059. You should enter through the main entrance at the front of the school.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact

Mr. Twisler at dtwisler@whrhs.org, Jagdeep at 200430@whrhs-stu.org, or Mayur at 204670@whrhs-stu.org.


Opening Ceremony

Click on any workshop to see a description. Descriptions of all workshops are found below the schedule.

Room 1
Room 2
Room 3
Room 4
Video Game Design
Presentation Skills
Dinner and Design

Escape Room
Led by Jagdeep Bhatia

Computer science is not all about coding (trust me - coding is the easy part!) Rather, strong computer scientists have great teamwork and problem-solving skills, and can “think outside the box”. For this escape room, you’ll have 50 minutes to search c0mrade’s office (he’s an evil hacker), break into his computer, and secure the evidence of his latest hacking crimes all before c0mrade comes back from his lunch break. Good luck solving the puzzles and have fun! Note: Max 8 people per room. Registration on a first-come-first-serve basis on day of event.

Music + Coding
Led by Mariam Contractor

Composing and creating music of all kinds through coding is a beautiful way to bridge music and computer science together. In this workshop, we’ll be focusing on coding and music at simple levels, with no music nor coding experience required, using websites like Scratch, which allow you to upload sounds at specific intervals and beats. However, you’ll also be learning about how much this music grows with the introduction of machine learning. This workshop connects two seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum, and you’ll learn about the inevitable future of music.

My Story: From Chemistry to Machine Learning
Led by Matt Carbone

I will talk about my journey from WHRHS to graduate a student at Columbia. Many students, if they are like me, at least, probably believe that the learning curve is too steep to get into coding professionally. It might be helpful to hear that I have not had a formal CS/coding education, and how I got to the point where I am fluent in Python, C and C++, understand how to write distributable software, and how I self-taught myself machine learning. This will be code-lite and could serve more like a discussion than anything else. It’ll be a chance to really have a discussion. I want people to know that if they want to do science, computer science or anything in between, they certainly can regardless of their current experience level.

Introduction to Functional Programming
Led by Jared Pincus

If you began learning to code with a language like Python, C++, or Java, you’ve been using the “imperative programming” paradigm whether you realize it or not. But did you know there are other ways to construct programs? Namely, “functional programming”! Functional programming (FP) is deeply rooted in the foundations of computer science way back in the 1950s, and to this day it remains an essential tool for the CS field. This workshop will expose you to the principles and uses of FP with some simple coding in the Scheme programming language, offering a different perspective on programming from the usual introductory CS curriculum.

Introduction to Java
Led by Jay Fu and Bryan Shangguan

Java is one of the most widely used programming languages. It is used in mobile apps, web applications, and in GUI (graphical user interface) applications. In this beginner’s workshop, you will learn the basic fundamentals of Java including Strings, variables, output statements, if statements, Scanner input, and arithemtic operators. There will be challenges and exercises throughout the workshop that will help make learning Java interactive and fun.

Problem Solving with CS
Led by Mayur Sharma

As humans, we use games like Tic Tac Toe, Checkers, Sudoku, Chess, and Go to pass the time or compete against one another. But how do computers interpret these games and learn 'strategy'? This workshop will focus on algorithms used to solve these problems and present different methods of systematically solving complex problems.

Women in CS
Led by Mariam Contractor

Computer science is a relatively recent field that truly got started in the latter half of the twentieth century. As more and more students decide to pursue C.S., there seems to be a notable lack of the majority of the world’s population: women. Women only earned 18% of all computer science degrees in 2015, and that’s only the first of many eye-opening statistics that display the gender disparity in computer science. This workshop is geared towards any computer science learner--from beginner to master coder--and how to crack the code (pun intended) on engaging more women in computer science.

Introduction to Basic Algorithms: Unraveling Fibonacci Numbers
Led by Matt Carbone

Central to computer science is the algorithm, which can be simply defined as a set of rules to be followed during a calculation. They form the foundation of essentially all of the technological infrastructure you use in your everyday life, and if you want to study computer science, you will need to master them. In this workshop, I will demonstrate and explain a variety of algorithms used to compute Fibonacci numbers (and there are a ton of them). We will also cover a variety of important related concepts, like computational complexity, which are key to any computer science degree in college.

Design Space

This is a place where you can get started on your design project for the HillsHacks design contest early. Daniel Lamson, a member of the WHRHS computer science faculty, will be available to help anyone on their design project.

Artifical Intelligence
Led by Arjun Singh

Artificial intelligence is one of the most innovative and fast-rising fields in modern computing. This workshop is going to delve into the mathematical mechanisms that drive different types of artificial intelligence models. First, we will review an example, learn how AI models work, and then have a small competition with a prize at the end!

Data Science
Led by Arjun Singh

More and more openings for jobs are arising in the field of data science as companies need to store larger amounts of data. However, most people do not know what "data science" means, what data scientists do, and how you can get into it. So, this workshop is going to cover the fundamentals of data science. This includes what data science is, what the job entails, and what/how programming languages are used to handle the information of America's largest corporations.