A culture and tourism hackathon organized by youth and for youth on August 27-28 at Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum got a surprise visitor: American television host, comedian and producer Conan O’Brien, who is in Israel to film “Conan Without Borders: Israel” for his popular travel series.

O’Brien was excitedly welcomed by the 70 teens as an honorary hacker. He told them how much his 11-year-old son would have enjoyed being there.

Museum director Eilat Lieber took O’Brien for a tour of the Jerusalem history museum, housed in a medieval citadel near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City.

Conan O’Brien at the Tomorrow JLM teen hackathon at the Tower of David Museum, August 28, 2017. To his right is museum director Eilat Lieber. Photo: courtesy

 

The 24-hour Youth Creating for Youth Hackathon was run in partnership with student entrepreneurship and innovation organization Tomorrow JLM.

Working with mentors, participants developed tech solutions for enhancing the visitor experience throughout the city’s museums, restaurants, transportation and historic sites.

The first prize of ₪4,000 went to a group dubbed chargeEat, made up of teens from Ashdod, Kiryat Ono and Beersheva. Their suggested app shows users where to find nearby chargers and electrical outlets so that they won’t have to worry about phone battery life while photographing and sharing info about the site. Lieber says this idea has inspired the museum to install a charging spot.

Team chargeEat won first place in the Youth Creating for Youth Hackathon at the Tower of David Museum, August 27-28, 2017. Photo by Ricky Rachman

Other ideas included a Facebook app connecting teenagers with mutual interests using events based on these interests; and an app that creates a personally curated museum tour based on interests specified by the user.

Judges, mentors and sponsors were from PICO Partners, Jnext-Jerusalem Development Authority, Beta Mechanchim, Siftech, fresh.fund, Jumpspeed Ventures and AtoBe Startup Accelerator (Azrieli College of Engineering), as well as the soon-to-open Innovation Lab at the Tower of David Museum.

Participants. Mentors, judges and sponsors at the TomorrowJLM Hackathon at the Tower of David. Photo by Ricky Rachman

The event also included a “reverse mentoring” session in which directors of cultural institutions, education departments and youth initiatives from around Israel questioned a panel of teenagers about what makes for an appealing cultural experience.