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UNESCO's CodeTheCurve Hackathon - Applications Due 11:59pm EST April 15


Students, grab your crew! We're looking for teams to join the UNESCO global, virtual hackathon to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, let's code new curves! All it takes is a video to apply! Get yours in by 11:59pm April 15.

At least 1.5 billion young people are currently at home due to school closures relating to the global COVID-19 pandemic. One hundred eighty-three countries have been disrupted. Students, parents, and communities continue to cope with social isolation, while exploring how to maintain a sense of normalcy with the sea of online learning content, collaboration tools, and social media platforms available for the world to consume. Conversations that once took place face-to-face have now moved virtual.

For students, parents, teachers, educators, and others, home confinement has brought the additional attention and need for an innovative learning paradigm, one centered on practical and real-world digital skills. This is a time that’s especially challenging for the 49% of the global population who lack access to broadband internet. For those who are online, the spread of misinformation and disinformation relating to COVID-19 complicates the situation even further by diminishing confidence in public health guidance by authorities, and has given rise to panic and uncertainty.

What’s CodeTheCurve anyway?

The UNESCO CodeTheCurve global virtual hackathon is designed to enable students, educators, teachers, and the research community to build tech skills, entrepreneurial spirit, and professional competencies with a lens on digital creativity and cooperation to mobilize the world.

CodeTheCurve aims to inspire youth with new skills in a virtual, immersive environment in collaboration with other students, experts, and mentors, while creating deployable solutions and digital prototypes prepared by citizen developers, data scientists, and innovators with youth at the center. The CodeTheCurve learning and hackathon journey will be practical, hands-on, and a ton of virtual fun. Did I mention that you should prepare to have fun??


  • Call for applications opens: April 6
  • Call for applications closes: April 15
  • 40 selected teams announced: April 20
  • Learning resources for pre-collaboration: April 20-21
  • Online learning: April 22-23
  • Hack: April 24-26
  • Winners announced: April 30
All it takes to apply is a video of your idea, the problem you’re trying to solve, and who you expect to reach! 

Participant chops

If you’re at least 16 years old, get ready! Gather your crew of developers, data scientists, and friends from other fields — and don’t forget about collaborating with educators, teachers, and researchers. Pull together a gender-inclusive group with no more than six participants, and make sure there’s at least one person under the age of 25 in your team. Don’t forget, all teams must have at least one female and one male. The collaborators from CodeTheCurve will select 40 teams to participate in the immersive learning and hackathon journey.

If your team does not get selected in the top 40, don’t worry! You can still showcase your skills to the 40 selected teams for their consideration. More on that later!

If you have data science and/or development chops, game on! Get your crew together and remember that not everyone who participates in a hackathon has to be an engineer. Perhaps you’ve heard about the four Hs of a hackathon: It takes hackers (yes you, devs and data scientists), hustlers (and you, program and project managers), hipsters (you creative designers and marketers out there), and humanitarians (industry experts). Which are you and how will you form the perfect team? Never taken part in a hackathon before? Now is your opportunity!

Skills required

Participating teams should have at least one developer and/or one person with basic data science skills. Programming skills can include Python, Java, HTML, and/or the ability to use App Inventor or Power Apps — along with the other technical skills that you individually bring to the team. And at least one member of the team must have basic Linux and Jupyter Notebook experience.

Participants will receive free access to IBM LinuxONE Community Cloud, which will provide participants with open access to an enterprise-grade Linux environment for your development needs — innovation powered by open source technology.

Challenge themes

CodeTheCurve includes three themes:

  1. Access to learning
  2. Information and data management ML on IBM Z
  3. Managing present and future social and health issues with a particular focus on COVID-19 responsiveness

Please note that submissions must be at the idea stage and not already in-market.

Want more detail? Check out some of these ideas:

  1. Access to learning
    • Distance learning
  2. Information and data management (IBM Z on LinuxONE track)
    • Addressing disinformation and/or misinformation
    • Fact checking
    • Business services
    • Data monitoring and/or privacy
  3. The present and the future — social and health issues
    • Addressing current and post-COVID-19 crises challenges
    • City, community, regional, academic institution-specific, and/or global infrastructure services
    • Information sharing (healthy behavior, digital skills, language barriers, etc.)
    • Safety and population

Contributions might include (but are not limited to) the following ideas/thought starters:

  • Contributing to fostering empathy and humanitarian behavior within your local community and the community of others
  • Combating the spread of misinformation and disinformation, and promoting digital literacy skills for fact-checking
  • Facilitating access to educational materials and support for teachers, students, parents, and communities
  • Innovating in the field of virtual learning with a lens on empowering your local community and the community of others in local languages that might not be represented online currently
  • Addressing relevant social issues, such as confinement (parenting, virtual activities, etc.)
  • Addressing local city-services and/or business needs
  • Addressing the need for the monitoring, analysis, and utility of relevant information, including adhering to protecting and securing sensitive data, while maintaining privacy requirements when collecting, storing, and/or transmitting sensitive data, including leveraging existing open data and data models
  • Anticipating future changes and needs following the COVID-19 pandemic

Training magic

Selected CodeTheCurve teams can expect to land new technical and professional skills, including entrepreneurship and design thinking, media misinformation and disinformation, data analytics, Jupyter Notebook, LinuxONE Community Cloud platform, SAP Analytics, machine learning code patterns, artificial intelligence, ethics in AI, AI for social good, chatbot creation, data protection and privacy, and much more.

Look out for the opportunity to take an enterprise-grade development platform for a spin — the LinuxONE Community Cloud. What am I most excited about? The machine learning code lab that leverages the chops of IBM Z!

Judging criteria

Submissions must be in the form of a 2-minute video, and will be rated based on standardized criteria by an expert panel of judges with a focus on the following:

  • Alignment with one of the three CodeTheCurve Themes
  • Problem statement
  • Solution description
  • High-level architectural diagram
  • Feasibility
  • Ability to make an impact
  • Audience demand

The 40 teams that are selected for the hackathon itself will be rated based on standardized criteria by an expert panel of judges, with a focus on the following:

  • Problem statement
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Target market/audience
  • Description of the solution
  • Alignment to the three challenges
  • Technical viability based on source code/technical documentation submitted (detailed architectural diagram and tech roadmap)
  • Pitch deck
  • Deployment strategy and feasibility
  • Business model

Winning teams

All teams that complete the final submission process will receive certificates of participation from the collaborators.

1st place winners from each theme will have 1 year of free access to LinuxONE Community Cloud and quarterly virtual meetups with thought leaders from IBM and/or its collaborators for a one-year period to advance projects further.

1st place winners in each theme will also receive unrestricted access to learning resources on the OpenSAP platform, SAP DKOM or SAPPHIRE attendance to pitch their solutions, and 3-months of business mentoring/coaching by SAP experts and execs.

For our data scientists out there participating in the information and data management ML on IBM Z track, the top team will also receive an extra jolt of enterprise-grade machine learning toolset access powered by IBM Z for six months to continue your amazing project, and be empowered to take it to the next level with monthly virtual mentorship meetups with global entrepreneurship and tech thought leaders. The team will also have an opportunity to have a featured session at IBM Z Day to pitch, describe your hackathon journey, and the solution your team created.

On behalf of our CodeTheCurve collaborators, we look forward to your submission and learning more about your ideas.

Submit your video now.

Share your vision and make a difference!

Melissa Sassi
Chief Penguin
IBM Z Student Hub
IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator


CodeTheCurve is powered by

UNESCO | IBM Z | SAP | UN EQUALS | Angel Hack | iHackOnline | TruChallenge | Internet Society | YPO | REDDS Capital | Global Accelerator Network | FOSSASIA | Society of Physician Entrepreneurs | Village Capital | People Centered Internet | Queen City Fintech | HealthTech Women | Robusta Studio & YOU