Tech Girls are Superheroes. It’s not just an app!

I am passionate about teaching digital technologies to my students, children, family and friends.  Sometimes I also mentor colleagues or teachers I connect with online; these teachers tend to seek me out and ask for help with how to implement the Digital Technologies curriculum in their own teaching.  I enjoy helping/mentoring teachers in this because I learn a lot about their different subjects (Art, French, Business, home schooling, etc.) and it’s fun to think of engaging ways to integrate Digital Technologies within their context.

I also enjoy teaching Business. I am particularly fond of learning about current digital marketing practices and the ethical considerations around using big data to market to prescribed (often stereotyped) audiences. Unfortunately, I do not currently have the opportunity to teach Business at school; however, the Tech Girls are Superheroes competition allows me to share my Business knowledge with the teams that I coach.

I love entrepreneurial + digital technology competitions. I am a Tech Girl & proud of it!

(The following sections have been written for an upcoming Somerset Times article)

This competition is NOT just about creating an app! 

It always amazes me how often colleagues and students assume that the teams are only “coding”.  NEWS FLASH: there is so much MORE to this competition than coding!  I love computer programming (a much better term than the media-hyped term “coding”) but it is a small part of what my teams actually do in this competition. Each team is coached as if they are a startup business.  Below is a list of some of the things each team does and much of this is also documented in their comprehensive Business Plan.

  • identify & understand their target audience through surveys and interviews
  • analyse target market surveys, interviews and research, and then consider the startup’s product viability in the current/future market. Conduct basic statistical analysis, identify data trends and develop effective graphs/charts to represent the data.
  • consider whether the startup should be defined as For Profit or Social Enterprise. I teach students about social enterprises and how they are an increasing business model.
  • identify, contact, negotiate and formalise potential partnerships with existing organisations
  • conduct comparative market analysis. It is important to ensure that their app idea has a useful or interesting difference to similar apps on the market. Analysing the market may also help the teams think of more innovative ways to improve their app.
  • wireframe the app. This is where the team designs the skeleton or blueprint of how their app will look like. This allows developers to organise elements on app screens, consider app element placement and the ease of functionality. The wireframe process is iterative; teams initially sketch out wireframes on a whiteboard, they don’t like how the screen looks or they realise that a certain design is difficult to setup in the development stage, then they tweak/edit the wireframe.
  • learn to program. Most students use MIT App Inventor but the Blue Screen team learned to use xCode (Apple Mac). It’s pretty magical when 14-16 year old students decide on their own to learn a text-based programming language for the competition.
  • prototype the app. Repeatedly test the functionality of the app, tweak the code, test the functionality of the app again, test for the effectiveness of the User Interface (UI) and the User Experience (UX), tweak/add code, change app screen layout etc., and repeat!
  • prepare a pitch video. Take video of skits, presentations and ensure each team member is included. Mash-up the video, images, text and music, to create a professional pitch video that will highlight the purpose and function of the app.

Tech Girls are Superheroes 2018 Ambassadors and Tech Girls are Superheroes 2017 UN Education Award

This year I coached four teams in the Tech Girls are Superheroes 2017 competition.  I am proud of all the girls in each team; this is not an easy competition and yet each team submitted an entry.  The Blue Screen team were one of three QLD Finalists; woohoo!  The team members were so excited to attend the QLD/National Showcase event recently at The Cube, QUT.  The Blue Screen team didn’t win but they are already thinking about how they can do better in this competition next year.  The team have now been named as Tech Girls are Superheroes 2018 Ambassadors, which is wonderful because I already see how younger girls at school view Tech Girls are Superheroes students as role models. My hope is that younger girls will see the positive impact an entrepreneurial competition and digital technologies can have on women.

Our team C Sharp, with their Go Fish app idea, have recently received the Tech Girls are Superheroes 2017 UN Education Award. The Go Fish app is a fun, interactive game-based idea; I want to play it!  Team C Sharp focused their startup app on the UN Sustainable Development: Environment theme.  Their app’s purpose was to build awareness about the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and this was done through an augmented reality game where the player catches fish while also learning about the GBR. Their app development did not progress well and they did not attempt the augmented reality functionality, but the idea was brilliant!

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