High school students demonstrate app-titude in building world-changing tech.
This Tuesday the winners of the Longitude Explorer Prize were announced, in a ceremony hosted at the 2015 Teen Tech event in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East London.
The first prize winners, who were awarded a £25,000 prize, were from Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire. Two runner-up prizes of £5,000 were awarded to pupils from Sutton Grammar School in Surrey and Churston Grammar School in Devon.
Launched by UK innovation charity Nesta in November 2014, the Longitude Explorer Prize is a youth-focused challenge for secondary school students, which aims to expand their abilities in technological creativity.
In the spirit of the 18th century Longitude Prize - which set the task of determining a ship’s exact location at sea - the contest focused on navigational technology. Groups of 11-16 year olds across the country took up the challenge of using satellite location data to solve social challenges.
Of the 67 teams who entered the competition, 12 finalists were selected to present their ideas to judges and other students at Teen Tech. The judges praised the breadth of ideas and high quality of the entries.
The team from Rendcomb College took home first prize with their mobile app Displaced, which uses live data on homeless people and refugees collected from postings on social media accounts. With location data and notes provided by users, the app will allow charities to better coordinate the logistics of supporting vulnerable people around the world.
The all-girl team have already been working with a local homeless charity to trial the use of the app. Rendcomb College is now looking at how to best use the prize money to realise the potential of the project and fund other extra-curricular learning opportunities in digital creativity.
Rendcomb College pupil Emily Sharman said: “We’re really happy – and shocked… in a good way! We put a lot of effort into the project. It was definitely a great experience and helped us learn a lot of new skills – product design, marketing and software development. They’re probably not things you usually expect 15 year old girls to be doing.”
Constance Agyeman, development manager at Nesta said: “We would like to congratulate all of the winners of the competition, along with all of the other Longitude Explorer finalists. The standard of entry to the competition was excellent and it was a very hard job for the judges to select just three. It is so encouraging to see so many young people energised by the idea of using digital creativity to solve social challenges."
The judges named a team from Sutton Grammar School as first place runners-up for their entry Safety.net – a handheld device which enables teachers to track the location of their pupils on school trips.
Sutton Grammar School pupil Matthew Jansen said: “On our last Duke of Edinburgh expedition we were asked to text our leader with our location each hour. Unfortunately, being in remote areas there were lots of times when we didn’t have a phone signal. So, using satellite technology, we created a simple way for teachers to keep track of their students wherever they go on school trips."
A team from Churston Ferrers Grammar School were named second place runners-up for their entry Fast Aid. The project is a data collection and navigation tool to be located in ambulances which will help crews to check live data about nearby hospitals including details of available beds and facilities. The team were also named as people’s choice winners, with visiting students to Teen Tech choosing Fast Aid as the best entry.
Churston Ferrers Grammar School pupil Finbar Kneen said: “We’d been hearing lots of stories in the news about the NHS facing problems with funding, and we thought that we would be able to create something that would be able help people and health workers to make the most of what’s available.”
For further information on the Longitude Explorer Prize contact, Matthew Hull at the Nesta press office on 020 7438 2514 or [email protected]