Hackathon: The future of science in high school

By March 12, 2018 No Comments

Do you like solving real problems in innovative ways? Students from high schools around Wellington and the Wellington ICT Graduate School, recently participated in a two-and-a-half day Hackathon at Victoria University of Wellington’s (VUW) ICT Hub, to come up with new technology ideas and solutions to keep students engaged in science.

High school students from around Wellington and the Wellington ICT Graduate School attend the two-day Hackathon at VUW ICT Hub, with support from judges, mentors, teachers and hosts.

Organised by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and the Wellington ICT Graduate School with support from WelTec’s engineering school, the Hackathon introduced students to opportunites in ICT through a highly engaging experience.

Working in teams the students had to think about what makes science difficult to learn, and to see if they could solve this problem in some way. They used their own skills and resources to develop solutions, supported by a team of mentors who are experts in science, ICT and team work.

“We’re putting the boom back in Chemistry!” — Winning team, NZ Can’t Ever Achieve Science Under Current Kid’s Standards, with judge Eva Sherwood (left) and receiving their award (below right).

The top prize went to a team of students from Wellington High School, Onslow College and the Wellington ICT Graduate School. Each member of the team won a $2,000 scholarship to study at Victoria. Their winning solution was a web-based program to help teach chemistry. Called Crackerjack, the program enables students to try chemistry experiments by dragging and dropping flasks of virtual chemicals to combine them in different ways, complete with simulated heating and titration. The web site was highly gamified with novel and compelling graphics.
< blockquote>“I had a lot of fun and it was a fantastic learning experience,” said Jasleen Ghuliani, Wellington East Girls’ College.

In addition to the winners’ prize Taita College students received a special award for their school by developing a pūtaiao (science) kit of easy-to-make, low cost practical science activities for science students.

The Judges, Sir Neville Jordan, Brendan Kelly, TEC’s Chief Information Officer, and Eva Sherwood, Chair of Tech NZ’s Women in Tech, considered the quality of the user experience to choose a winner. They considered whether the solution was new or improved, and how well it responded to the brief. How well the team had worked together was also taken into account.

Sir Neville Jordan commented that the standard of all the ideas presented was very high.

“I was impressed by the level of commitment shown by all the teams, how well they worked together, the diversity of the solutions and it was inspiring to be a judge.”

Team Practical Soldiers with judge Brendan Kelly, TEC’s Chief Information Officer (left) and presenting their pūtaiao kit to the judges (below right).

Team Practical Soldiers with judge Brendan Kelly, TEC’s Chief Information Officer (left) and presenting their pūtaiao kit to the judges (below right).

Students working in teams during the two-day Hackathon at VUW ICT Hub. Presentations underway to the panel of judges (bottom left) and Mike Wilson, VUW Pro Vice-Chancellor for Science, Engineering, Architecture & Design.

Brendan Kelly believed the participants’ enthusiasm and commitment was clear to the judges.

“The teams had fun and all the solutions we saw had potential.”

Mr Kelly also noted that “the skills exhibited by the students would be valued by any future employer.”

The Wellington ICT Graduate School is creating a diverse supply of industry-ready talent in response to the ICT sector boom that is currently occurring in the Wellington region.

Our one-year Master programmes are designed to build on students’ existing talents and skills, providing hands-on experience and real world projects to preapre them to take on jobs in the ICT industry.

Next intake is July 2018 — June 2019.

Applications for 2018 are open now. Book an advice session to find out more about the programmes we offer.

Are you ready to take the next step in your education? Book a session with our Academic Advisor today:

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