The Blockchain Gauntlet

The Blockchain Gauntlet: a month of blockchain hackathons and acceleration

BEN is happy to announce that throughout November we will be hosting Blockchain Gauntlet, a global blockchain accelerator, thanks to generous donations from Bloq, MLG and DIID and support from UnSung. The accelerator will be throughout the entire month of November. Local regions leaders are encouraged to host 24/48 hour hackathons during the month, where projects can also be refined and submitted to the Blockchain Gauntlet.

Physical hackathons encourage a special kind of high-intensity effort, by keeping the time limits tight yet offering easily accessible educational resources. That’s why we want to provide this experience to everyone in our network, even if they don’t have a hackathon occurring within reach. Region Heads in Chicago and Toronto have already begun to plan their local hackathons, and we’re welcoming more to host a local hackathon for their region.

The rules for the Gauntlet competitions are simple: maximum size of four people per team, with one physical ambassador per local event (in other words, ¾ can be remote). Projects from these physical hackathons will be evaluated by a group of expert judges and VCs, from the Gauntlet, who can improve your project’s ability to enter the market. In this way, submissions to local hackathons will have attention from the entire industry and support from a community of people who can take the projects to next level.

GOAL

We’re targeting this grassroots initiative towards the new students who jumped in our 2016 Fall initiative and we want to inspire them get active in the blockchain ecosystem and build something. We are bridging the gap: students who wish to experiment will have tools and key industry experts in the industry supporting their efforts. Register for the Blockchain Education Network at BlockchainEdu.org/welcome and join the #gauntlet channel.

If you want to be a judge, sponsor or have a toolkit you want developers to be able to work with, please reach out to contact@blockchainedu.org. If you are not from one of the cities who are hosting a hackathon but want to find a team, we allow remote submissions and still offer support in the #gauntlet channel.


BEM's done

Throughout October, members of BEN (the Blockchain Education Network) participated in creating an openly available educational course that introduces their peers into blockchain. So far, we have received submissions from people in across Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands.  

The purpose of the Blockchain Education Month (BEM) was to gamify the steep learning curve usually associated with bitcoin and blockchain technology. In September, we hosted our Bitcoin Airdrop which brought 250 students out to their local blockchain club to setup a wallet and receive their first bits. BEM is designed to continue the momentum and excitement that we generated during the Airdrop, and focus that energy to encourage students to learn the skill-set required to use this technology natively.

BEM received an anonymous donation to bring the idea to life and to incentivize our network with a bitcoin bounty board for helping with the creation of the syllabus. When students contribute content, they earn points for their work, which earns them a ratio of the reserve that has been set aside. In a way, students competed to gain “marketshare” of the course by creating quality content (in the form of slides and videos).

Like every student project, work and contributions didn’t start filtering in until right before the deadline. Despite this, BEM created 6 chapters worth of content, each containing 3-4 modules. We encourage anyone to use this content via the slides created and/or corresponding youtube playlist in their own classroom or presentation setting.

A goal of BEM is to help retain students whose interest in bitcoin and blockchain began during the airdrop. Jesse Xiong, a recently active member leading Delaware BEN engagement, organized a meetup of several students to spend a day in the library creating content and getting feedback from each other. Jesse said,

The framework that BEN had provided for members to contribute to BEM was straightforward and rewarding. The initiative aided in my efforts to reach out and bring together local BEN members to collaborate. Being with some of the most forward-thinking and innovative fellow students at the University of Delaware was so special and I can’t wait to contribute more to BEN initiatives.

Video Link: of Jesse Xiong setting up the #delaware #bem meetup.

Patrick Guay, who recently became the Ottawa region head for BEN, said

It’s the perfect way to get started with the blockchain technology. Students were first introduced to the technology through the airdrop, where we gave them a small amount of bitcoin to play around with. Now, thanks to everyone in the network, we provide a free open-sourced outlet for anyone to understand the inner workings of this technology. I hope anyone taking the course will understand the far reaching possibilities of the blockchain, as I did.

Patrick is a great example of how quickly a motivated individual can begin to contribute to BEN. His first foray into the industry was at the Distributed: Health conference last month in Nashville, where his team won a prize and now he is leading the charge in Ottawa.

We believe that by continuing to develop the roadmap for students to learn about blockchain and then get into the industry, we will have more stories like Patrick and Jesse who open up the path to others.

Submissions can be seen in a single youtube playlist. In November, we look forward to launch another exciting event, the Gauntlet. The end of the 2016 roadmap is the encourage students who have learnt about bitcoin to actually take their theory into practice and develop a decentralized application.

 


Blockchain Education Month

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BEN establishes the month of October as “Blockchain Education Month”.

Throughout the month, student blockchain clubs focus their efforts on improving blockchain education. Affectionately named BEM, this project stands on the shoulders of the Bitcoin Airdrop hosted last month. In September, BEN introduced hundreds of new students to the blockchain ecosystem through a global bitcoin giveaway. Thus, after the initial excitement, the next step is to gamify the learning curve for those who have just taken the plunge.

Many regional hubs experience a surge of interest among students at the beginning of the year and we want to ensure that enthusiasm continues. To maintain this momentum, BEN has created a course outline to simplify the creation of an open source course on blockchain education. Inspired by the Stanford Bitcoin Crowd Course Initiative, students will have an opportunity to build micro-courses that aggregate to a complete curriculum in order to help others understand the blockchain and visualize its potential.

 

BEN will be incentivizing participation…

…in this effort through our Chapters to win points based on what topics their education videos/slideshows/radio podcasts/etc cover. Multiple prizes will be awarded to teams with the most points and creative contributions. Points will be awarded based on content relevant to modules in the outline.

For the first 9 days of BEM, until October 9th, we’ll be conducting a crowd-review of our outline in order to add any modules that students think are important to cover. On the 9th, we’ll lock in bounty rewards and students are free to start contributing content. While students are free to start contributing before the 9th, no more modules will be added after the deadline to ensure everyone has a fair chance and adequate time to compete for points.

While students may contribute as a sole individual, we encourage students to work with other chapter members as a team, so that they might cover larger chunks of the outline and earn more points. Working in a team (such as a club) will also allow students to play from their strength and use this opportunity to learn as well as teach. Plus, it’s simply just more fun.

Wish to participate in this global educational experiment?

Members of BEN can join the #bem channel on slack. Not a member of BEN? Sign-up today.


Cross-Campus Bitcoin Airdrop

GLOBAL – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AUG 22th

Bitcoin Airdrop
BlockchainEdu.org/Airdrop

The Blockchain Education Network is pleased to announce a third annual Bitcoin Airdrop. The Airdrop, an event designed to give away bitcoin to new people, began 2 years ago at MIT and expanded to McGill University in Canada last year. This year, the Airdrop is being taken to upcoming orientation weeks on university campuses across the world. Student blockchain clubs  in Atlanta, Boston, Toronto, and Gainesville, FL have confirmed their participation, and more are welcome.

 

Students with clubs that are just starting have an opportunity to get awareness on campus quickly. Josh Vorick, the founder of the Georgia Tech Bitcoin Club says “As the club kicks off and begins trying to educate GT’s campus about the new blockchain technologies, the Airdrop will be crucial for generating hype and grabbing people’s attention. Once they’re excited about Bitcoin, we can capture the momentum for future events and grow the club”.

 

It’s also a great way for existing clubs to start the year in an exciting way and participate in an event larger than their individual campus. Stepan Vorobiev, founder of the University of Toronto Decentralized Tech Association says “This year, for the first time, we’ll have a table at the annual club fair. The event generates a lot of foot traffic, being particularly popular with freshmen. Combined with the Airdrop, we are really excited about this opportunity to recruit new members with a warm crypto welcome”.

 

This airdrop is the kickoff to a 3-step semester-long student initiative to grow the blockchain ecosystem and to teach our peers how to utilize blockchains in the real world. The best way to start the conversation on campus is to use the technology with a peer next to you.

 

Initial sponsors of the event: bitcoin marketplace gateway Wall of Coins and private blockchain as a service startup, e-BIT. Robert Genito, ceo of Wall of Coins, adds “Accelerating Bitcoin adoption today is a high priority. The best way we can all do this is to enable services that not only work in a peer-to-peer fashion, but also provide newcomers with a friction-free, friendly welcome to participate in this ecosystem.” Chris Rufo, ceo of e-BIT says “I’m very excited to help the community expand and take part in the BEN Airdrop. We at e-BIT are driven to bring blockchain technology to the forefront of modern finance and one way to accomplish that mission within the general public is to share our undying belief in Bitcoin with the masses. We applaud BEN for their efforts on this front and are proud to be a sponsor.”
BEN is still accepting sponsors to participate in the airdrop.


Host a Bitcoin Halving Party

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We want to encourage all our blockchain hubs to meetup and celebrate the bitcoin halving day (~July 9th) with local get-togethers. To do this, we’re paying for all our regions to have pizza parties at someone’s apartment, at a bar, or some other casual social environment.

To add some gamification to the mix, we’ll be rewarding regions that break participation thresholds with a snapchat geofilter.

Logistics

  • If you can arrange for 3+ people to come [with 0 day notice]: We’ll reimburse up to $50 (in bitcoin) for food/beverages purchased for the halving day. Take pictures of receipts!
  • If you can arrange for 10+ people to come [with 3 day notice] we’ll purchase a snapchat geofilter for the apartment/bar/place you’re all meeting at.

You can do all of this on your region channel

Social

We want to dominate the #bitcoinhalving hashtags during Halving Day. Thus, take candid and funny shots & vids of your crew and post to twitter/facebook/instagram (whatever you like) with the hashtag #bitcoinhalving and tag @BlockchainEdu.

If you’d like direct access to post to the BlockchainEdu facebook/twitter/instagram, let us know and we’ll give your organizer direct access.

In addition, we’ll be organizing a train of snapchat takeovers at all the parties. So be sure to head into #snapchat to voice interest in snapping your local halving party. We’ll be creating 15-20 minute timeslots for each region and passing the snapchat account across the regions.


Edit: We uploaded the snapchat reel to youtube!


St. Louis: Victory Lap

 

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June 11-14, twelve students came from across all corners of the US, Canada, and Italy to attend the Distributed Trade Hackathon in St. Louis, Missouri. The hackathon was a 24-hour nonstop coding competition for developers to create the best blockchain trade solution within the time-frame. The winning team would receive $20,000, enough to turn any good idea into a startup. Yet to make this hackathon in Missouri accessible, BEN helped cut down on costs to help students to come out by providing: free hackathon entry, a $300 travel stipend provided by BTC Media, and a large Airbnb to avoid students needing to pay for a hotel.

Despite only a handful knowing each other beforehand, the collective relief in being able to talk about blockchain with other enthusiasts created strong bonds. Being able to have in-depth blockchain discussions stands in stark contrast to most local scenes. By the end of the night, the BEN crew had formed teams amongst each other and were ready to dominate.

IMG_20160612_124438849After a sweaty walk over and quick bite to eat at a nearby diner, the teams checked into the event and began to set up their IDEs. Notable developers in the blockchain space were nearby for quick questions and the participants were very helpful to each other.

The event began at 12pm after opening ceremonies. A whopping 16 teams grabbed available rooms and setup coding nests full of their favorite snacks and beverages. The 3 BEN teams began working on projects relating to identity, “ubering” last-mile delivery, and improvements for cross-atlantic cargo trade logistics, and reducing settlements on exchanges. The teams were hustling throughout the day and into the late night. It wasn’t until 2-5am until participants started to seek out places to refuel on sleep.

 

13466195_1431170823593753_2957395947042411810_nAt the end of the hackathon, BEN dominated the scoreboard. DIID won the $20k prize and DeliverDAO won the runner-up cash prize.

Check out the BEN student’s submissions on the hackathon gallery.


Blockchain Madness 2016

We are excited to announce that on March 15th a new college tournament will begin. Six elite universities from across North America will compete head to head to determine which campus knows the most about the blockchain. The winner will be awarded the BlockCup, which will be recorded into the blockchain.

There are three universities from Canada including the University of Toronto, Laurier and Queens, and three from the United States including NYU, MIT and Berkeley that will be participating. Each event is being live-streamed so the world can watch in real-time.

University campuses are the best place to create micro-ecosystems for innovation. Bitcoin & Blockchain technologies are socio-economic experiments and being able to engage in an alternative ecosystem safely within a friend network enables rapid prototyping of ideas through hands-on experience. Students are eager to make headway in emerging segments of this industry.

Blockchain Madness was created to shine a spotlight on the academic hubs that are at the forefront of the blockchain grassroots education. Similar to how March Madness transforms college basketball players into all-stars, we want the world to know who the next blockchain prodigies are.

Purse is the title sponsor of the event and also an incredible service where you can get 20% off everything on Amazon. Don’t have an account? Use our referral code and tweet us a picture of your next purchase and we’ll send you a tip with ChangeTip!

Leading up to the event we are posting daily questions to Twitter with a 5000 bit prize to challenge the community. Look for the #TipTrivia and #BlockchainMadness to get involved.


November Hack Winners

Drum roll, please…

After a month of hacking around the world for the Borderless Block Party, the final projects have been submitted, the judges have been surveyed, and the results are in! In order from first place to third:

1st Place: OZcoin, out of MIT

“The goal of OZcoin (OZRS) is to create freedom through fungibility.” Built by Jinglan Wang and Conner Fromknecht, OZcoin built on the “recent developments in Confidential Transactions for ring signature schemes to deliver higher anonymity and perfect secrecy for transaction values.” In addition, OZcoin standardizes transaction sizes, providing a default layer of anonymity for its users. This level of anonymity makes OZcoin more fungible than bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as each transaction indistinguishable from one another. Check out their write up here!

2nd Place: Cryptid, out of RIT

“Cryptid is the next generation of identification.” By allowing organizations to place their memberships on a decentralized blockchain, anybody can quickly and securely manage the verification of existing members. “Utilizing existing standards, such as ISO 19794–2 for our fingerprint templates and AAMVA and ANSI personal information format standards, our system can be integrated with existing software and hardware (fingerprint scanners).” Built by Steven Masley and Dakota Baber, their software is built on top ofFactom’s backend, one of the Borderless Block Party’s toolkit sponsors.

3rd Place: ncdns-tls, out of OU

“ncdns-tls uses the Namecoin blockchain-based naming system to verify TLS certificates of web sites without certificate authorities, notaries, or other trusted third parties.” Built by Lead Namecoin Application Engineer and University of Oklahoma student Jeremy Rand, ncdns-tls aims to reimagine the way TLS certificate authorities work on the internet, using Namecoin on the backend for this secure alternative.

Runner Up: SnipBit, out of the Univ. of Iowa

“SnipBit is a bitcoin micropayment platform that brings payments to the browser and eliminates the subscription and paywall problems of the web.” Built by Cameron Schorg, Devin de Hueck, Michael Gord, Sajida Zouarhi, and Alvis Wong, SnipBit allows content producers to monetize their content and users to quickly and efficiently purchase access to articles, videos, and more. Check out a demo video of their platform below!

What’s Next

The Borderless Block Party was powered by BitGo, the world’s most secure wallet. They’ve been a huge help throughout the event, and we at the College Cryptocurrency Network appreciate their support!

We hosted the Borderless Block Party to help showcase the amazing potential bitcoin and blockchain has to disrupt archaic industries and platforms that we take for granted. We’ll be hosting a bigger, better hackathon sometime in the spring for ambitious students looking to hack the blockchain. BlockchainEdu.org/Hackathons