Play-parks which generate power, a wearable app which tracks people with dementia, wardrobes that choose and deliver your clothing and a wristband which tells you if you’ve eaten your five-a-day- these were just some of the winning ideas pitched by talented teenagers on how to use technology to make life ‘better, simpler or easier’ at the TeenTech Awards in London.
HRH The Duke of York, KG, patron of TeenTech and The TeenTech Awards visited the Royal Society to meet the talented young entrepreneurs and hear more about their innovations. The winners have been invited to a special reception with The Duke at Buckingham Palace on October 14th.
More than 100 teenagers, who have seen off fierce competition from hundreds of teams from schools across the UK, travelled to The Royal Society to present their innovative ideas to a team of judges made up of celebrity science presenters, journalists and eminent academics including TeenTech co-founder and BBC Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin, Stephen Fry, Top Gear’s James May, BBC Click’s Kate Russell, BBC Bang Goes The Theory’s Dallas Campbell, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, Jim Al-Khalili and BBC Head of Science Andrew Cohen.
Students, aged between 11-16 years old and working in groups of three, were encouraged to search for scientific and technological solutions to real problems in 15 categories linked to industries important to the future, such as environment, transport, healthcare and wearable technology.
Addressing pupils who had taken part in the Awards, Teen Tech’s patron The Duke of York said: ‘If we don’t encourage young people to be interested in technology and the digital world and apply that knowledge then we are not going to be a rich country in the future. All these projects that you have undertaken are about problem solving and that’s what is needed in the real world. Thanks to Teen Tech you are finding solutions to problems that someone of my age might never have even considered. And the solutions you are finding could make a difference to a whole range of people, not only now but into the future.”
“The TeenTech Awards aren’t just a competition, they’re a way of helping young people see beyond the classroom into their future career. The ideas we’ve seen here today have been truly inspirational and I am exasperated at young people being portrayed as directionless hoodies when in reality there’s a huge amount of talent in classrooms all over the UK,” said TeenTech’s Maggie Philbin, who is leading the UK Digital Taskforce which publishes its report on young people’s digital skills in July.
“Teenagers are not always clear about the skills they need to succeed and don’t always stand out because of our exam system. We have been bowled over by entries demonstrating not only imagination but real commitment to projects, which some students have clearly worked on for months.
“Uniquely, students have been encouraged to take their ideas out of the classroom, to reach out to industry and academia for support and feedback. Theirwork has been an absolute delight to judge. I’m confident we’ve sparked ideas which can make all of our futures better, simpler and easier.”
TeenTech Awards judge and BBC Top Gear host James May said: “People my age are becoming good at being computer operators but not at computer programming. I know how to download a banging tune on my iPad, but I don’t know what programming is all about. The great thing is you can get involved in programming by using a Raspberry Pi. It’s cheaper than tickets to some football matches and a lot more educational.”
Sponsors of the awards include Google, Hewlett Packard, CPC, National Grid, Airbus, Equal Experts, OCR, Institute of Food Science and Technology, Cranfield University and PA Consulting.