10 months ago
With a mission to close the tech gender gap and get more girls in STEM careers, the Technovation Challenge is a global competition that brings together young girls ages 10-18 (grades 4-12) and allows them to become technology entrepreneurs through a guided 12-week program. Using coding as an entry point, students are challenged to develop a mobile app that solves a problem in their community. With support from local chapter sponsors General Motors & IBM and hands-on support from the Educational Research & Innovation Hub (ihub), teams from the District School Board of Niagara have participated in the Challenge for the last three years with the number of participants growing yearly, attracting 34 teams this year.
Last year, teams participated in the Toronto’s Regional Pitch Competition and swiped the Junior Division with three teams advancing to the semi-finals. For the first time, the Niagara Chapter hosted their own Technovation Regional Pitch Event in Niagara Falls which welcomed 18 participating teams and allowed the local community to come together and hear the stories of the solutions and ideas created by young entrepreneurs and to celebrate their learning. At this event, the community also had an opportunity to acknowledge the incredible effort put forth by mentors, teachers, parents and families to ensure that girls felt inspired and supported during the program—and hopefully long after it. “Today’s Technovation Regional Pitch event is a competition, but more importantly it is a celebration of what can be accomplished when girls are empowered to make change in their communities…” said Jill Russell, Technovation Regional Ambassador. Russell, who is also an ihub Innovative Educator and the educator that brought Technovation to the DSBN continued, “..the passion you see in these young women as they pitch their ideas is inspirational. You can almost feel the tech gender gap shrinking”.
Among the Regional Pitch judges were: Dave Robitaille, Director of Corporate Citizenship at IBM Canada, Roy Russell, Research & High Performance Computing Specialist at McMaster University, Sarah Bishop, Software Deployment Technician at General Motors Canada, Sherrie Chisholm, Operations Specialist in IT at General Motors Canada, Stephanie Scott, Human Centred Design Team Lead in the Public Sector, Janice Cho, Senior Designer and Technical Lead in the Public Sector, Colleen Simons, Administrative Assistant in the Public Sector, Julio Batres-Gavidia, President of Paradigm Ventures Niagara, Rosemary Jellinck, Student Achievement Leader, IT4 Learning at the District School Board of Niagara, Susan Kiwechien, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Cube For Teachers and Theresa Benson, DSBN Educator. The judges were tasked with the tough task of deciding on a Top three for our Junior Division and after thoughtful deliberation they awarded the Top Three Teams to be:
The Regional Pitch also featured a Keynote from Niagara Falls native, Yashi Shah, who is the Founder of Code Niagara, a social enterprise that aims to empower and provide the Niagara community with the skills, tools and platforms needed to succeed in the digital age and an organization ihub been fortunate to work with since it’s formation. The 2018 Technovation Season at DSBN has been extremely exciting to be apart of, we couldn’t agree more with Jill’s comments about the program, “CODE girl CODE” has been a huge success leaving participants with life-long skills, “What these young women have accomplished by participating in the Technovation Challenge is incredible. They not only learned how to code, but also developed important collaboration on problem solving skills for the future.”