Teams Hack Water Solutions for Their Schools

Students at the Third Annual H2O Hackathon had six hours to use their technological know-how to develop an app to decrease water consumption

The winner of the $5,000 Cal Water Golden Spigot Award at the Third Annual H20 Hackathon was a team of students from Merrill F. West High School, part of the Tracy Unified School District. The 12 competing teams had six hours to develop an app to decrease water consumption at their school by 20 percent by the year 2020. The winning team developed an app that would give students a tool to use in the cafeteria to know a menu item’s “water footprint,” or how much water it takes to produce the food. Students would be able to make an informed mealtime choice using the app. The team also had an idea to add a social aspect to the app, so students could compete with each other on their choices.

Organized by the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) and iHub San Joaquin, the H20 Hackathon was held at the SJCOE on Saturday, March 17. The competition provides students an opportunity to use the science, computer-programming, and problem-solving skills they learn in school to develop technological solutions in a setting that prepares them for their futures. "The students are learning 21st-century job skills of collaboration, using technology, collaborating as a team, and presenting their product to a panel of experts," said Bret States, SJCOE STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) coordinator. "The H2O Hackathon also helps focus the innovation and passion of our youth on finding solutions to water challenges facing California today and in years to come."

Teams at the Third Annual H20 Hackathon used the IBM Bluemix platform to develop their contest entries. A panel of experts determined winning entries. In addition to the educational benefits of the competition, the H20 Hackathon aligns with the iHub San Joaquin mission to nurture entrepreneurship and enterprises in the region dedicated to innovative and emerging technologies. The task given to student teams to reduce water consumption coincides with California's "20X2020" plan to reduce per capita water consumption.

Results: Cal Water Golden Spigot Award ($5,000): Wolfhack Kappa, West High School; Second Place ($1,000): Team Caution (Wet Floor), Venture Academy Family of Schools; and Third Place ($500): Wolfhack Omicron, West High.

The team from Venture Academy also won the Best Use of IBM Cloud award for its use of certain aspects of the technology. Each student and their teacher-coach received a $250 per month credit on IBM Cloud for up to a year, a $3,000 value.

Twelve teams from six county high schools participated: Tracy High School (one team) and Merrill F. West High School (four teams), Tracy Unified School District; Venture Academy Family of Schools (one team), San Joaquin County Office of Education; Stagg High School (three teams), Stockton Unified School District; Lathrop High School, Manteca Unified School District; and Ronald E. McNair High School (two teams), Lodi Unified School District.

Major sponsors of the H2O Hackathon include California Water Service, San Joaquin County WorkNet, Collins Electric, the Port of Stockton, the San Joaquin Partnership and A.G. Spanos Companies. More information about the H20 Hackathon and the partnership of local business, government, and other organizations sponsoring the event can be found at  And look for more on social media with #H2OHackathonSJC.

Posted: 3/22/2018