On Saturday, 27 August 2016, I was one of the many judges for the Years 5-6 category at the Young ICT Explorers event at the UQ Centre at the University of Queensland, St Lucia. I learned so much from the Young Explorers and their ICT projects and their ideas and lessons learned were impressive. Let me share my experiences as judge for the Young ICT Explorers Year 5-6 category.
Most of the Year 5-6 Young ICT Explorer projects used the following technologies:
- Makey Makey
- Hopscotch app
- Wix website builder
I got to see young students present some amazing ICT projects that have the potential to solve world problems or even local community problems. Here are just a few of the projects I had the privilege of experiencing:
- A bike helmet that detects lack of light and turns on the helmet lamp.
- A Scratch game that teaches the player the basic ballet feet positions. The game is integrated with a MaKey MaKey and you play by stepping your feet on the correct foot pad.
- A contraption that tests water turbidity. The project uses an Arduino (https://www.arduino.cc/) - an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software, LED, light dependent resistor (LDR).
- An almost-EV3-equivalent robot built for $100. Well almost. The student team’s robot cost $104 and is not to the same level as the EV3 robot, but it is a pretty good attempt. The robot uses an Arduino attached to a motor and wheels and an ultrasonic sensor.
- A talking rubbish bin to gamify throwing rubbish into the bin and encourage the younger students at the school to throw their rubbish in the bin. The bin says random things when you throw rubbish into it e.g. clapping sounds or congratulatory comments. The project uses Scratch and Makey Makey.
- School in a box was a Scratch and Makey Makey invention that teaches children in developing countries as a cost effective solution.
- Shining nexus is a board of 40 LEDs that react to light sensitivity. The project made with an Arduino. It creates a fun, interactive surface for applications on tables and other surfaces.
- A re-creation of the interior controls in the Tardis which turns on and off with RFID - same technology as used in road toll devices, has a countdown timer, shows the date and shows a fun light display.
Tips for next year
As a judge, here are my top tips for next year’s aspiring teams:
- The judges spend 10 minutes with each the team. 5 minutes for the team’s presentation and 5 minutes for questions. Make sure you prepare and practice for both components.
- Team: Tell us about your team. Which team member did which tasks? How did you work together? What were each member’s strengths and how did it benefit the team? Judges would like to see how each team member contributed to the development of the project and that each team member made a significant contribution based on their strengths.
- Innovation: What was the innovation? What problem are you solving? What is the community need? What were the results when you user tested your project? How did you improve on the project based on the user test? This means that projects that are just pure fun and entertainment would rank poorly against these questions. It is always best to invent a project to solve a problem.
- Complexity: How complex is your project and the technology you used? How did you learn how to use the technology? Did you iterate on your project design based on lessons learned? What were the outcomes of your lessons learned? Judges would like to see that the students extended themselves and have pushed the boundaries of what Year 5-6 students are capable of achieving.
- Communication and presentation skills: Don’t read off a piece of paper when you are presenting. You have been working on your project for 1 or 2 terms, you know your project best. Tell us the story of the project as well as the technical side of the project. Do you have a website? YouTube videos? An app? Posters flyers? Engage with the judges, the team of judges are wanting to see you succeed and are encouraging. You know your project best, be confident in telling the story of your project and weave in the technical side, the lessons learned and how you worked as a team. Let each team member share their part of the project development story.
- Level of completeness / quality: Does your project work? What would you work on next if you had more time? What else could you do with your project? Everyone who works with technology experiences this moment. Even if your project works every time during practice it is how it works in front of judges that counts. Whether you are a student team presenting at a school competition or a professional presenting to a client, working with technology is always a challenging task. Practice makes perfect.
Start imagining, inventing, creating and building. It is a lot of fun to invent your own projects. It doesn’t matter how old you are, children of all ages are creating the most amazing ICT projects. See you at the Young ICT Explorers in August 2017!