From the classroom to Silicon Valley via the House of Commons. The best students’ app ideas and prototypes are announced in the national Appathon competition
On 20 November 2014, over 100 school and university students who entered the national Appathon competition were acknowledged at a special event at the House of Commons for their innovative app ideas and prototypes. The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons congratulated the teams.
Delighted students from Notre Dame High School in Inverclyde and a team from Cambridge University have won the grand prize of a once in a lifetime trip to Silicon Valley to meet tech giants that include Google, Facebook and Linkedin. Notre Dame High School came up with the brilliant app idea ‘Smart Wardrobe’, which allows the user to organise their clothes stored in a revolving carousel wardrobe. Users can enter their clothes into the system and set up an avatar of themselves. This clever app will help plan outfits by garment type, colour, brand, and even help buy clothing from online stores.
A team from Cambridge University snapped up the idea and turned it into a prototype called ‘Smart Wear’. The students had given much thought in their submission to the user experience, target audience, scalability and income generation.
Thanks to support from generous partners in the fields of business, coding and technology, bundles of prizes were also awarded to the most well deserving app ideas and prototypes from students across the UK. Please see attached PDF for a full list of winners.
Acknowledging creativity and innovation
Children as young as six have put a huge amount of energy, creativity and hard work into their submissions which they’d like to see used as apps in their everyday lives (and so have teachers!).
App ideas include:
Waterworks is an app that uses GPS to find your current location and tell you whether the water is safe to drink.
Supa Calc is a calculator with a difference – it gives examples on how to work the sum out as well as providing the answer!
History Hunter is an encyclopaedia and video game hybrid that teaches history, as well as entertains the user.
Reid Hoffman Executive Chairman, Linkedin, provided guidance around the judging criteria to help students with their submissions. These are: impact, scalability, virality, originality, demo-ability. All the submissions were judged against these criteria.
Sherry Coutu CBE, Chairman of Founders4Schools, one of the lead organisers of the competition, comments,
This is the first year that we have opened the doors for school children to create app ideas and I’m so glad we did. Their submissions have been tremendous and provided university students with a wealth of ideas from which some brilliant prototypes have been created. Congratulations to Notre Dame High School and the Cambridge University team for winning the trip to Silicon Valley – very well deserved. Initiatives like this one not only boost innovation in schools, but they are critical in addressing the digital skills crisis by showing students what it’s like to create the technology that they use in their everyday lives, not just use it.
Linking to the curriculum
In line with the government’s aim to "ensure every child leaves school prepared for life in modern Britain", the annual Appathon competition provides an opportunity, and incentive, for schools and colleges to connect to the ICT / computing curricula in the four regions. It clearly embraces the ethos of the new computing curriculum in England, to create students who are ‘responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information communication technology.’ For pupils, it’s not simply about learning how computers work but about how to create their own programmes. With an estimated 3 million new jobs to be created as part of the app economy in the next five years, the Appathon competition was created to help prepare students for their future, and for the jobs of tomorrow. In addition to providing insight into the worlds of entrepreneurship and digital skills, Appathon UK builds creativity and innovation skills, while encouraging teamwork.
Nicola Schofield, ICT Technician at Merton Park Primary School in Wimbledon said of the year 6 (age 10) entry she worked on with pupils:
It not only stimulated ideas but necessitated much decomposition and abstraction - we had to really think about what might and might not be possible… I had no idea prior to this how well the children could collaborate (they brainstormed and agreed without any adults’ involvement over their lunchtime), and how inventive they could be.
Michael Acton Smith, CEO of MindCandy and a supporter of the competition, said of the Appathon,
This is a wonderful initiative that will tap into the creativity of students throughout the country. We can't wait to see what they create.