by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- St Joseph’s Convent St George’s impressed judges with their idea to help solve major global issues
- Students had 6 to 8 weeks to undergo STEM training
- Initiative is brainchild of SheLeadsIT co-founders
Girls from across the nation’s secondary schools were given the opportunity to be fully immersed in a day of ICT after being formally introduced to the Caribbean Girls Hack–2019 Hackathon.
The day culminated with a competition where teams from various schools had to prepare and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. Students had 6 to 8 weeks prior to undergo training and participate in webinars geared to building interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and to prepare them for the day of competition.
At the end it was students from St Joseph’s Convent St George’s (SJCSG) who emerged winner of the 2019 Caribbean Girls Hack–2019 Hackathon, having impressed the judges with their idea to help solve one of two major global issues Gender-Based Violence and Climate Change using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as part of the theme for this year’s competition.
This initiative is the brainchild of Nicole Pitter-Patterson and Bridget Lewis, co-founders of SheLeadsIT, a Caribbean non-governmental organisation that advances women’s economic empowerment through the application of information technology. This is also a collaborative effort with Caribbean regional technology partner, Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) Tech Clubs.
SJCSG was among several schools who participated in the competition held at the Grenada Trade Centre on Tuesday, 21 May. They tackled the issue of climate change from 2 perspectives using both a mobile app game and a website that “help promote self-development and collaboration to raise awareness of climate change.”
SJCSG student Shameka Springer said users of the mobile app game will be confronted with different challenges and issues surrounding climate change and will be given the opportunity to make a decision that will have consequences as the user progress through the game. She also stated that the website will lend support to the mobile game by allowing users to engage in weekly challenges with their friends.
She said getting ready for the competition was quite difficult. “It was very hard work, first of all, we had to take all the webinars which we had to stay up at night watching and then working up to the day although it was stressful, I can say that it was worth it.”
Students from St John’s Christian Secondary School placed second with their project centred on a mobile app that helps support victims of gender-based violence. The school admitted having several challenges in preparation for this competition which started with their late registration. Spokesperson for the team Shonnia Dabero said that their late registration did hamper their delivery on the day of competition. “We did not have much time to prepare for our presentation because we were registered late. We only had one week and approximately 2 days, so we tried our best. We didn’t [think] that we would have placed but by god’s grace we did.”
St Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School (SAASS) captured 3rd place with their website to assist in the management of proper waste disposal. Nia Banfield one of the team’s representatives stated the website allows people to upload pictures of areas that are in need of cleaning. She stated that after the pictures are uploaded, a team will be immediately dispatched to clean the area.
During the opening ceremony Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell impressed upon the students to embrace Information and Communications Technology (ICT) which is considered a driver of Grenada’s economy into the future. He stated his approval of seeing more and more girls and women being empowered through ICT which has been traditionally a male-dominated industry. “The Government of Grenada stands fully committed to ICT as an enabler of future growth and providing opportunities for young people to contribute to that growth,” he said.
Lewis said the introduction of the competition into Grenada was not without its challenges, with the lack of sponsorship being one of the major issues confronted.
“One of the challenges is getting sponsorship for an event of this nature,” she said. “It’s very difficult when you are here the first time to know who are the movers and shakers and players in the market and this today has allowed us to get connected with people, so we know that when we come back again in Grenada, it is going to be bigger and better,” she added.
President of the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, Curtis Greaves was extremely pleased with the outcome of the competition. He said this competition helps forge regional integration in the area of ICT.
“This year we had 2 OCES countries involved in this, which is St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada but outside of that, we have Jamaica, Barbados. and Trinidad & Tobago who are also involved so we are forming regional integration right away which is significant and important for the Caribbean.”
Starting from 14 May Hackathons were held in Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. On Friday, 24 May the competition will move to Trinidad & Tobago, and then Barbados.