Three talented Grade 10 students Arya Vohra, Taichi Kato and Khushaal Jamu (team name Photonify) participated in one of the most prestigious hackathons in Singapore, Startup Weekend Singapore(SWSG) Mega 2017. This event put them in competition with older and more experienced digital creators and they were the youngest competitors in the running. Their entry, an AI app that enables everyone to take professional quality photos in a snap, won the tech-wonder-threesome the award for Most Creative Team and a cash prize of $40,000 (as an in-kind sponsorship), a droid inventor kit and a microbits starter kit. 

This is the second hackathon win for the students as they won second place at the  IDEAS Hub hacking competition, IDEA Hacks in 2016. In the same year, they also created Questo, an app that generates questions based on a user-provided text or photo using IBM Watson, a artificial intelligence software.

At Startup Weekend Singapore, together with three other team mates, they created Photonify. It is an AI powered compositional photography assistant, designed to help anyone take professional photos. While the students developed the technology behind the app, Gabriel, Daniel, and Jiamin whom they met during the hackathon contributed to the business aspect of the idea. 

During the hackathon, they were put through bootcamps where they learnt about business model canvas, financial modeling and product development from experienced mentors. 

The students also known fondly as Team Questo are now planning their next steps in their journey as entrepreneurs. They will be organising the next IDEA Hacks 2017 with all the experience they now have in nurturing other student innovators and entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

On the 15 June 2017, several UWCSEA students had the honour of presenting their projects to the Duke of York who was visiting UWCSEA Dover Campus. On the day of the visit, the IDEAS Hub was transformed into a mini exhibition space, with several groups of students presenting their innovative projects, including turtle shaped fidget spinners, rainforest conservation technology and smart mirrors powered by Intel technology. The Duke of York listened attentively to each group as they enthusiastically explained their ideas. As put by one of our Grade 6 students, "It was indeed a privilege to be able to speak to royalty."

A keynote address was delivered by Kiran Bir Sethi, founder and director of the Ahmedabad Riverside School located in Gujarat, India. Sethi’s speech focused primarily on her experience as a mother, facing the realization that the education system values high test scores and good grades over a child’s sense of :I Can".  In 2001, Kiran set up her own school in Ahmedabad, India. She had found that modern education places insufficient emphasis upon imagination, emotional well-being and choice, and that a new paradigm was needed in which pupils creatively explore the world, develop themselves and care for others. Central to Kiran’s teaching method is a simplified Design Thinking approach that leads students to understand empathetically rather than just intellectually, and puts academic learning into a real-world context. This in turn encourages collaboration and the creation of future ‘citizen leaders’ who make a positive impact on the world around them. See her TED talk below.

The main event of the night involved the twenty social entrepreneurs, all of which were given two minutes to pitch their social venture. The ventures touched on a broad number of subjects, including accessibility for the blind and deaf, improving Christian-Muslim relations, developing debate skills, and many others. The event closed with a roundtable in which a select group of social entrepreneurships engaged in discussions with UWCSEA students, offering advice and answering questions about the industry and what drives them to create positive change. Overall, the night was a major success, reaffirming the importance of changemaking driven by youth.

 

An array of competitions, workshops, experts talks, after school activities and hosted events have made for a dynamic and productive first year at the IDEAS Hub on Dover Campus. The Hub opened in August 2016 with a mission to provide a place that inspires and supports our community to explore, innovate, collaborate and create sustainable solutions to shape a better world. The Hub is having a positive impact on the College and the wider Singapore community, offering a collaborative space that is connecting UWCSEA to local companies and innovators, as well as providing opportunities for people to share resources, learn from each other, work on projects, network and build.

Students quickly became accustomed to spending their break time in the IDEAS Hub (there are vocal complaints from Junior School students when it is closed for a day), and families have been using the space on the weekends to work on DIY projects.

Thirty parents and alumni are providing support through the adult volunteer programme, giving their time as mentors to work with Hub users on a regular basis. The IDEAS Hub has also established itself as an innovative space to host entrepreneurial events in Singapore, having partnered with organisations including Intel, Microsoft, UN Women and Ashoka during this first year.

Ben Morgan, the Director of IT and Founding Chair of the IDEAS Hub Advisory Board said, “Why is it important to expose young people to these activities—in our case starting from age 4 upwards? Ultimately, entrepreneurship and creating are mindsets, they are attitudes far more than they are skills sets, although certain skills are important. If you study many of the world’s successful entrepreneurs who have become famous in their twenties, the idea they are famous for was not their first idea. They all started developing projects in their teens or younger, which tells us that waiting until post-school education to develop entrepreneurism is too late; we have to be doing this in mainstream K–12 education. Our young students may not become famous for their first project, it may not be the next thing they create, or the next … But the key for us as a school is to create the environment where they can try and fail, and try again … and so help them develop the underlying attitudes that will eventually enable them to be successful.”

The timeline below includes some of the first year’s highlights.

The IDEAS Hub is fully embedded in the UWCSEA community and we look forward to seeing the innovative creations and programmes in the years ahead.

The IDEAS Hub is funded by gifts from the community. Gifts to the College, through the UWCSEA Foundation, enrich the unique UWC learning experience and bring the College closer to achieving its mission. 

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