On November 11-12, Branham students competed at the prestigious “Gunn Hacks” Hackathon at Gunn High School. Branham placed first, against over one hundred other Bay Area students.
Gunn Hacks is a student-run programming event that brings Bay Area high school students together to create innovative programs or applications based on a given theme.
This year was the third annual installment of Gunn Hacks, with the theme of the Hackathon being anti-harassment.
With only 24 hours to come up with a hack, juniors Jack Irish, Adam Saleh, Kunal Dutta, and Dino Maslic teamed up to create an anti-harassment Twitterbot. The bot was created using a programming language called Python and a module for Python, known as Tweepy, that can control Twitter. Twitter has built-in bot support, so coders only have to sign up and copy down some access information. Using this information, the Branham coders wrote a program to filter public tweets for certain keywords that indicate harassment. Once the bot identifies something offensive, it will reply with an automated warning: You should stop harassing people.
The team initially ran into some challenges; the original version of the bot was banned by Twitter because it replied to Tweets too quickly. However, the coders were able to solve this by recreating the bot with additional code that limited the bot’s posting frequency, and the final entry wowed judges, allowing them to clutch first place in the anti-harassment category.
“I’m really proud of finally pushing through and winning and really seeing that the hours of learning paid off, and it really inspired me to go further with programming and complete more,” says Kunal Dutta, “the group and I are going to integrate new bots into our future hacks, which will hopefully be more complex and powerful.”
It seems paradoxical to see technology being used to solve a problem that was created by technology in the first place. Nonetheless, we congratulate these talented students of Branham for their well-deserved win and our school is looking forward to seeing what new developments they will come up with in the future.