Inspiring Innovation and Creativity at Iona Presentation College

Driverless cars, smart phones, personal drones and smart housing systems; with all of these technologies created in recent times, we can only imagine the impressive skills and systems our children will be using in the future.

It is important that we prepare our children for the new and exciting jobs they will have; and this means providing them with the skills they need for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based careers.

A report by PwC states that 75 percent of the fastest growing occupations now require Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics skills; with more than 70 percent of Australian employers identifying STEM employees as being among the most innovative.

At Iona Presentation College, students are engaging in learning programs and activities aimed to increase their interest in STEM-related fields. They are being challenged with programs that develop their problem-solving and critical analysis capabilities; while being encouraged to be curious, innovative and use their imaginations.

One such challenge, the Technovation Challenge, encouraged the students to create as App to address one of the United Nations Global Goals.

With some terrific brainstorming and prototyping, the girls devised a plan, coded their app using xcode and began the process of evaluating, testing, troubleshooting and recoding; before starting to develop a pitch for their creation.

Philippa, Shalia and Bridget describe their Technovation Challenge below.

Our Technovation Challenge required us to identify a problem in the world, related to one of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. We then had to brainstorm an idea for an app which would contribute towards combatting the goal/s. Next, we created a business plan, outlining the different facets of our business and how we would market the app. Finally, we filmed a pitch and demo video to promote our app.

Our app is entitled 'Foodlink'. It is a connection between businesses and charities with the aim to repurpose waste food. Businesses such as major supermarkets and bakeries can 'offer' items of food that they are unable to sell. Charities can then arrange, through the app, for delivery and usage of these items.

We chose this app because it addresses two United Nations Goals simultaneously; Goal 2 No Hunger and Goal 12 Reduction of Waste. It also addresses the theme of Social Justice, which is Iona's core focus for 2017.

We believe this app can make a real difference to our community, and if we choose to promote it to businesses and develop it further, it could enable programs such as Iona's Community Cook-Up to use excess food to help the needy. When we were discussing possible ideas, this one appealed to us, as food wastage is a problem currently being discussed through many means, such as the War on Waste documentary, and this is a simple way to repurpose this food effectively.

We really enjoyed developing our skills with coding, not only learning how to use new programs and databases, but applying them in unique ways to create our app. Through the program, we also spent time with a mentor in NSW, Julianne Tancevski, who gave us amazing advice on how businesses operate and helped us to test our app. We also enjoyed using skills we had learnt through media classes at Iona to film a convincing pitch video.

The skills of creating an app are very important going into the future, as someone with knowledge of coding and apps will be well equipped to enter an industry such as technology. In the future, there will be many jobs related to computer programming as we move into the development of artificial intelligence and as our lives move online. Having experience with coding has given us a taste of this career pathway which we will consider in the future.

Women are certainly under-represented in the field of STEM, and we think it will be great to have more female role models in this area moving into the future. Seeing more women in these fields will inspire more girls to take up a career pathway in STEM, and this will inspire innovation and creativity from women as well as men.

Following this great challenge, we are all considering the option of studying engineering after we leave school, and it would be great to see more girls doing the same.

Philippa, Shalia and Bridget

If you would like to see the Foodlink Pitch and Demo videos, following the links below;