Earlier this year in May, I received an email from SAP inviting me to be a judge at an ICT competition called The Young ICT Explorers Competition that was starting in NSW. This competition, the brainchild of an SAP research scientist, had been held in Queensland for the past three years. This year it was opening up to NSW students and it was to be held in Sydney during August.
From the website: Young ICT Explorers is a not-for-profit competition, which has been created by SAP to encourage school students to create their best Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related projects.The competition’s alignment with the school curriculum enables students to apply what they learn in their ICT classroom to develop a technology related project. At the judging event, students have the opportunity to present their project to a judging panel of academia, industry partners and ICT professionals. Each project is assessed on the criteria of creativity, uniqueness, quality, level of difficulty and project documentation.
I was also asked if I might have students who would want to enter. Since the closing date for entries was only two weeks away, our wonderful ICT teacher Abi_Woldhuis and I held a quick conference. Could we offer this opportunity to our students? Could we fit in in? Could they get into groups, decide on a topic, decide on an action plan, decide what tools to use and decide how to present their work in only two weeks? Oh and could they pull it altogether and write a report on it too?
Could they indeed! Today I am the one of two proud teachers of nine groups of finalists from a field of sixteen, as well as the proud teacher of the winners of the merit award, third place and the people’s choice awards. Our students rose to the challenge, they devised plans, they created blogs, they created movies, they created claymations. Part of the judging conditions was a fair amount of paperwork, so they wrote reports, they made posters and they worked hard, spending every lunchtime and countless hours at home working on their projects. Not one curriculum hour was given to these finalists yet they still persisted. The amazing Abi kept them calm, she answered their queries and dealt with mountains of paperwork. She was their rock.
Today I judged the year 7 to 8 category and I was amazed at their abilities. The winner was programming with languages I have to admit I did not understand. Downstairs my students, their parents and siblings enjoyed their showbags, t-shirts and lunch. They were judged and they were inspired by the older students creations.
Our students did us and their families proud. Some were winners of prizes but they were all winners in life. They learned more about meeting deadlines, about the need to document projects, about teamwork, about persisting and about how to loose gracefully, than any curricuulm could teach them.