Australia’s biggest student invention competition goes virtual

Young Inventors

The Young ICT Explorers (YICTE) program, Australia’s largest invention competition for students, today announced the 2020 program will be fully virtual. The competition, now in its 11th year, also announced a new YICTE Accelerator Express with BAE Systems Australia, in partnership with The Smith Family and Junior Engineers, to upskill teachers from disadvantaged schools in using digital technologies.

Now in its 11th year, the not-for-profit competition is run by software company SAP Australia in partnership with CSIRO’s Digital Careers. It is open to schools across the country, with categories for kids from Year 3 (8-9 years old) all the way up to Year 12 (17-18). Winners receive mentoring to develop their project further, as well as cash prizes.

The new, digital format has meant that the registration period has been extended, with the deadline for schools and students to register now August 21. Judging will be done using video conferencing technology, with participants also able to submit video entries as an alternative.

“Every year, we see incredible inventions from kids across the country with unique ideas that aim to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. With everything that has happened this year, I can’t wait to see some of the inventions the kids come up with,” said Pete Andrew, Chief Operating Officer, SAP Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

“While we won’t be gathering in person, we hope the new virtual format will make it easier for more kids to take part, wherever they are, so we hope to make this years’ event the biggest ever!” continued Mr Andrews.

“Last year we had hundreds of schools and more than 1,200 students take part, and we hope that this year will be even bigger. For the first time, students will be able to take part in the finals without attending one of the State events, so we’re hopeful more regional and rural communities will be able to get involved,” continued Mr. Andrew.

In addition to the new virtual format, a new partnership with BAE Systems Australia and The Smith Family will focus on a digital accelerator scheme for teachers. The accelerator will see BAE Systems ‘Techsperts’, along with experts from Junior Engineers, run professional development workshops with The Smith Family schools teachers to train them in using Micro:bit technology which can be used for YICTE projects.

“The Smith Family is proud to work with BAE Systems and SAP to help students in disadvantaged areas to learn more about using technology. This year, we will be able to have an even bigger impact thanks to the new accelerator program, focused on equipping teachers with the skills they need to best support students to take part and encourage even more students to enter the competition,” said Judy Barraclough, Head of Strategy and Philanthropy at The Smith Family.

“BAE Systems Australia is delighted to partner The Young ICT Explorers – one of Australia’s most established technology programs for students.

“Our investment of AUD$100,000 will help support the enormously valuable role of teachers in exciting and inspiring the next generation of problem solvers and inventors, who will be crucial to Australia’s future success,” said Brad Yelland, CTO BAE Systems Australia.

The competition is aligned with the school curriculum which enables students to apply what they learn in their ICT/Digital Technologies classroom to develop a technology related project of their choice. Students are tasked with creating something that solves any problem of their choosing, using any technology, from software to apps, robots to websites, games, or VR.

Other partners on the program include CSIRO Digital Careers, Taronga Zoo, Yellowfin, the Australian Computer Society and Universities including UNSW, Deakin, James Cook University, The University of Queensland, University of Tasmania, the University of South Australia and the University of Canberra.

A full list of last year’s winners can be found here. Schools can register to take part here.

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Education Technology Solutions has been created to inspire and encourage the use of technology in education. Through its content, Education Technology Solutions seeks to showcase cutting edge products and practices with a view to expanding the boundaries and raising the standards of education curricula. It introduces teachers and IT staff to the latest products, services and developments in education technology with a view to providing practical how-to guidance designed to facilitate the integration of those products and services into the school environment in the most productive and beneficial manner possible.

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