Interschool hackathon paves the way for collaborative social impact
Daring and innovative students are bridging the gaps between schools to create a network that creates social impact through inter-school collaboration. The Regional Interschool Student Council is proudly supported by Junior Achievement Australia in bringing opportunities for change to as many students as possible.
On the 4th of October, Junior Achievement Australia and the Regional Interschool Student Council (RISC) brought together students from 12 different High Schools for an inspiring hackathon hosted at 1Scope offices in Barangaroo.
RISC students collaborate to reach solutions regarding social justice issues, educational inequality, cultural misappropriation and a lack of engagement by students in healthy fitness activities and sports by creating both engaging and educational events for students and the local community. RISC works in a positive learning environment that aims to promote learning and engagement on topical issues amongst the state’s youth population, and they encourage their members in their growth and development of lifelong skills including management, communication, event-organisation, leadership and teamwork.
The aim of the event was to promote intuitive planning of an event to be used by RISC in the future. To promote team work, the High School students were all teamed up with students from other schools and this way their bold ideas were developed into innovative concepts.
The judges of the event were Aaron Ngan, CEO of Junior Achievement Australia, Avneet Dua, Events Director for UTS Woman in Business Society, and Irene Hsieh, Stanford University Innovation Fellow and President, UTS Engineering Society.
The panel was stunned by the high standard of presentations. Dua shared ‘I did not expect the students to have this much insight of what really goes into the logistics of running and pitching an event like the cost, statistics, etc. They justified why they did what they did, and it was very inspiring to see that these students also had the insight to avoid negative effects within the organisation. The excitement was beyond inspiring and refreshing to see.’
Avneet also learnt how an on-the-spot hackathon can actually make a lot of sense for students to learn from, because it makes them think of questions they wouldn’t have thought of back in their planning stage.
At the end, the judges gave some general feedback all students can apply in hackathons;
Avoid reading notes off your phone where lock-screens and lost position on screen may throw you off. Write or type your notes on palm cards or peg your talking points to key presentation slides.
Confidence is an important presenting style, it shows that you believe in what you are saying.
- Explain why you think your solution is going to work.
- Demonstrate the demand for your solution. Show confidence in why people would be interested in your idea.
- If you goal is raising money for a charity or for the community, be clear where donations and contributions will flow. Supporters understand that any organisation must run but get angry when donations they think are going straight to a cause are eaten up by administrative costs in non-transparent fashion.
Aim big, bigger, biggest:
- Target thousands of students instead of just a small group.
- Think of collaboration; how might we get people on board to support our cause? To give us bigger reach? To reduce our costs? This might involve getting a radio station to sponsor a music competition, or having a pizza store to sponsor a fundraising pizza lunch. Think about what you need for an event, and ask who might be able to contribute those resources to minimise expenses.
- When thinking of prizes, focus on what people in your target market want, what money-can't-buy experiences can be arranged and how could we connect with them.
- Think sustainably and long-term. Can this event run every year? How can this initiative reach more and more people each time?
We asked one of the students and members of RISC, Rue Ching Teh her thoughts about RISC and the hackathon process.
What did you find the hardest on making your proposal?
‘The hardest thing to write the proposal was to get to know each other. It was our first time here, so to find the courage to talk to other people and then to develop the idea and the proposal was a bit of a challenge. Luckily everybody hit off very well and we trusted and respected each other so at the end we worked very well. We encouraged each other and ended up enjoying the team work a lot.’
What did you learn the most from this event?
‘What I learned the most was that you should never be afraid to break free or be inhibited. Always think big, learn more and become a better version of yourself. The best feedback I got was that no matter what happens, everything is a good experience and it’s always good to give it a go. Because you never know what you get out of things. That’s also one of the reasons I signed up for this council because so many different experiences can teach you a lot.’
Junior Achievement Australia is a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing young people for the competing working environment. We offer several business education programs in the areas of work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy, delivered to primary, high school and university students.