The five finalist teams of the ‘Children’s Hackathon 2014’ selected at the first-of-its-kind event held last year, faced off recently at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute where a final ‘Demo Day’ of the teams’ winning app ideas were worked on to further streamline and present to an expert panel of judges.
The four-day Hackathon focused on mentoring and developing the skills of the five student teams to build their apps into world-class, commercially viable applications.
A joint initiative of the UNICEF, Microsoft, ICTA and the Education Ministry, the first three days of the event focused on mentoring the five finalist teams from Dehiowita National School, D. S. Senanayake College, Kingswood College, Miriswatte Maha Vidyalaya and Viharamahadevi Balika Vidyalaya. The final day of the Hackathon culminated in the Demo Day when all five teams presented their software applications to the expert panel who evaluated the submissions not only in terms of innovation but on their commercial market viability.
Although the panel came to the conclusion that none of the teams completely fit the commercially viable criteria as yet, they had shown potential and capability. The panel encouraged the students to continue to hone their innovative apps and work on a more viable marketing plan for the future. Of the teams, Miriswatte Maha Vidyala and Viharamahadevi Balika Vidyalaya were awarded in the Most Impactful App category while Kingswood College clinched the first place for their ‘Amigo’ app, which can run on a mobile platform and is designed to communicate with people suffering from mental stress.
Miriswatta Maha Vidyalaya produced ‘BattleMath’, a game app to develop the mental math skills of children, whilst Viharamahadevi Balika Vidyalaya focused on social awareness with their app ‘Lumash,’ a game to educate children on basic social media ethics and awareness.
Speaking at the event UNICEF Country Representative Una McCauley thanked the students for their innovative ideas and enthusiasm. “You have given us an insight into what it means to be children and solutions to the issues you face as children.”
Globally, UNICEF’s partnerships with academia, the private sector, governments, and civil society have showed that by working together we can create real and lasting change. For example, RapidFTR, which started as a student project in the New York University Design for UNICEF class, helps humanitarian aid workers to reunite children who have been separated from caregivers in disasters with their families. Another example is the Backpack PLUS collaboration, a joint initiative between multiple partners, which provides community health workers with a customized set of tools to address their daily and long-term needs.
The Hackathon Demo Day concluded with awards to all five teams and key messages from judges on how to improve their application for real-world use, offering them some constructive guidelines.