We are happy to announce that the first local Blockchain Gauntlet events have been launched by region leaders in cities across North America including Toronto, Chicago, Charlotte, Washington DC, New York, Baltimore and Puerto Rico. These local hackathons focus on a diverse range of topics including, tech for regulation, women in tech, financial technology, among others. Every hack that is developed at each of these local hackathons can also be submitted to the Blockchain Gauntlet accelerator to compete for prize money and mentorship that can take the proof of concepts developed to the next level.
The first hackathon was this past weekend in Charlotte and was hosted by the Charlotte Blockchain meetup group. The Washington event starts today through a partnership between the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Women Who Code to “host a blockchain beginner hackernoon in partnership with the Blockchain Education Network’s global educational gauntlet”. The Puerto Rico event is being hosted by Jose Montero, the region leader for the Blockchain Education Network in Puerto Rico, and happens this Thursday.
The hackathon in Toronto and Chicago are planned as inaugural events and are called RegHackTO and the Chicago Blockchain Developers Conference, respectively. RegHackTO is being hosted by the Ontario Securities Commission’s OSC Launchpad, with support from MLG Blockchain Consulting, with a goal of having software developed to help simplify regulations. The Chicago event is in partnership with the Chicago Bitcoin Center and includes all the universities in Chicago including Northwestern, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Patrick Guay, the region leader of the Blockchain Education Network in Canada, lives in Ottawa and is travelling to Toronto to participate in RegHackTO and enter his hack into the Blockchain Gauntlet.
“The gauntlet is a very exciting event. Just like with blockchain technology, we have a decentralization of hackathons all over the world. Also, your hack will be showcased to high-level judges working in the industry, potentially sparking something special. It is definitely worth participating”, said Guay in a quote to the Blockchain Education Network. Guay recently won a prize at the Distributed: Health hackathon that was hosted by BTC Media in October.
by Michael Gord
It’s conference season again! This time, students from Blockchain Education Network met up at Blockchain:Money in London this Nov 6-7. To incentivize students to come out to the event, Keynote Events partnered with BEN to offer free student passes to the network. Upon receiving an outpouring of enthusiasm, 15 students from the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, and the US came out to the conference and split the cost of an Airbnb to maximize bonding-time throughout the extended weekend.
Executive Director, Dean Masley, started the conference as the first speaker – opening the question of what motivates #GenerationBlockchain to go above and beyond as exemplified in the Fall 2016 Initiative.
What’s up next?
Following Blockchain:Money, students of the BEN NL branch were inspired to begin planning a conference of their own. Keep your eyes peeled for June 2017 for the first BEN Student conference 😉
by Sid Ramesh
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
by Dean Masley
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.
“How do I get started? What should I start reading/watching/doing?”
It’s time to address this question head on. Throughout the month of October, blockchainers everywhere are putting an end to this question forever through a collaboratively built blockchain education course. To aggregate our common knowledge, BEN has built a syllabus of 6 chapters, divided up into modules, with each module containing a 7-minute script, powerpoint, and video. The goal is to create a collaborative path for newcomers and experts to create a resource for the public good.
The Syllabus starts with an introduction to digital currencies, cryptography and what a blockchain is. It continues into more complicated topics such as consensus algorithms and mining. Last, the course offers an introduction to blockchain development to prepare for upcoming hackathons and beyond.
BEN is encouraging participants to focus on:
BEN has reserved 4 BTC to divide proportionally to students who contribute content to the #BEM course. Students compete for prizes by submitting modules and winning badges that earn them points. Student’s individual point contributions are compared to the total points to evaluate their contribution ratio. On Oct 31st, BEN will allocate the BTC proportionally amongst all the course participants based on their contribution ratio.
BEN reserved an additional 2.5 BTC to individuals that submit non-course self-created content. This includes written blog articles, graphics, videos, audio, or planned events. Participants are encouraged to tag content that they created themselves after Oct 9th to a module in the syllabus. Participants can tag the same content to multiple modules if relevant.
Don’t be intimidated by making a blockchain course module. Often the information needed in a module is already described somewhere else on the internet and just needs to be made relevant to the course. #BEM is an opportunity for anyone who is new to blockchain to learn more about it and get rewarded for sharing their interpretation with others.
BEN has created a suggestion bank for anyone to make module research recommendations. Perhaps you may not have time to make a course but would like to recommend your favorite video, blog article, or research paper for whoever is willing to take on the module.
Submit your research recommendations to BlockchainEdu.org/bem (submit as many as you like! The more the merrier!)
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.
…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.
Members of BEN can join the #bem channel on slack. Not a member of BEN? Sign-up today.
The Blockchain Education Network is excited to announce a partnership with BTC.com on the upcoming fall Bitcoin Airdrop. The partnership allows the Blockchain Education Network to expand the Airdrop to more than a dozen universities across North America with room for more clubs to still get involved. The bitcoin airdrop is the 1st step of a 3-step semester-long plan this fall by the Blockchain Education Network to grow the blockchain ecosystem by educating students.
A Bitcoin Airdrop has become a yearly tradition during the first month of the fall semester. The idea was introduced by the MIT Bitcoin Club in 2014 after they raised $500 thousand dollars to give each new MIT student $100 worth of bitcoin. In 2015, the tradition was continued in Canada by the McGill Cryptocurrency Club. So far, thousands of students have received their first bitcoin from these initiatives.
Student clubs in cities across the United States including Berkeley, Iowa City and Chicago as well as university clubs in Kingston and Waterloo in Canada have all joined the airdrop. This is in addition to the existing airdrops confirmed by MIT, University of Toronto, Georgia Tech, and the University of Florida. Full rooster at https://facebook.com/blockchainedu/events
“As many of people in the crypto space are familiar with, there is a vast difference between simply understanding a technology and being put in a position to make something of it,” says Max Fang, President of the Bitcoin Association of Berkeley. “A Bitcoin airdrop has been in our plans for a long time, and this new initiative finally gives us a chance to augment our semesterly Intro to Bitcoin talk with an impactful hands-on experience with the technology. We are very excited to be a part of a movement larger than our community in and around the UC Berkeley campus.”
“One of the largest obstacles to introducing bitcoin to newcomers to get past the bias that it’s only for power users. The hope is with the airdrop we can show that it’s something everybody can interact with and that’ll snowball into a larger effect on campus as they want to pay their friends for sharing a burger or a pizza with the bitcoin they received and they’ll introduce more people into the fold. Bitcoin is just the tip of the iceberg and we hope to show everyone how accessible it is!” – quote from Dev, founder of the blockchain club at IIT and the Regional Head of Events for the BEN efforts in the Chicagoland area.
The goal of the Airdrop is to encourage students at universities to experiment with bitcoin and blockchain technology. Dean Masley, executive director of BEN explains, “We think the best way to begin to understand the complex concepts behind blockchain and bitcoin is to simply use it first-hand. The experience of downloading a wallet and sending a request for money is entirely different from traditional finance and is best done with help from a friend. That’s why we’re enabling our student blockchain clubs to onboard new members into their club with their first wallets and bits to start diving down this rabbit hole of an industry.”
Find out more about the Fall Initiative
Find out more about the Airdrop
GLOBAL – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AUG 22th
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.
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.
You can do all of this on your region channel
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!
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.
After 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.
At 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.