Pupils from Wick High School and Lamlash Primary School on the Isle of Arran have been announced as winners of a dragon’s den style competition to design apps that solve real-world problems.
The Highlands and Islands ‘Apps for Good’ final took place today where schools from across the region pitched their products via live videos to a panel of judges based at UHI’s executive office in Inverness.
Almost thirty schools, from Orkney to Arran, took part in the project which was organised and led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Wick High School won the secondary schools category and Lamlash Primary School was the winning primary school.
Wick High School pupils demonstrated their two apps. One was aimed at encouraging young people to become more active and engaged with their local environment and the other app aimed to increase students’ productivity by blocking out the distraction of non-essential apps and social media on their smart phones.
Lamlash Primary School won the primary schools category for their app which will help tourists and hobbyists to identify local wildlife when they are out and about.
Prizes were also awarded to Speyside High School for their app which identifies and gives advice on mental health issues which might affect young people, and Arisaig Primary School which was awarded a prize for their app which directed people to watersports activities according to their location.
The project has been supported by HIE and funded by Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership (DSBEP).
Joyce Maclennan, head of finance and business services at HIE, said: “Each group were given ten minutes to present their pitch via video-conference and we were looking for original ideas and well researched and planned projects. We send our congratulation to the two worthy winners who both went the extra mile to plan and pitch their products which were very well rehearsed.
“The pupils used the most up-to-date mobile technology to design and make their products. We would like to thanks all the teams who took part and we hope this encourages more young talent to help build the skills pipeline to support the vibrant technology industry in the region.”
Three additional app ideas from Wick High School were also successful in the national ‘Apps for Good’ competition yesterday, with one winning in the ‘Information’ category.
Chris Aitken, teacher at Wick High School, said: “We are absolutely delighted to see the teams from Wick High School being selected for the Apps for Good finals again this year. I personally am very proud of all our teams that have taken part this year. They have shown real focus and dedication and I am sure they will use the skills they’ve learned in their future school career and beyond with hopefully many now choosing careers in STEM subjects.”
Head Teacher of Arran High School, Lamlash Primary School and Early Years Class, Barry Smith, said: “We are delighted to have received this award and it is recognition of the effort and enthusiasm of both Mrs Henderson our P6/7 teacher and the children who have embraced the opportunity.
“The Apps for Good competition has been a highly motivating way for our children to engage with learning in Computing Science through a ‘real-life’ context and has provided an excellent vehicle to prepare them for the transition of this learning into High School. We look forward to building further upon what we have all learned through our involvement this year.”
Claire Gillespie, DSBEP programme manager from Skills Development Scotland (SDS) who was a judge at today’s event commented: “There is a wealth of opportunities available in Scotland’s digital sector offering exciting, rewarding, and satisfying career opportunities. It’s encouraging to see so many young people with such an insight into this growing part of our economy.
“All of the teams taking part are to be congratulated for showing real dedication and genuine enthusiasm for their apps, and a special congratulations goes to the winners for having developed such an impressive concept.”
Chief dragon Gary I Campbell, key account director of UHI, said: “UHI, as a digitally connected university was delighted with the quality and diversity of the presentations today and we hope to welcome some of these young people as computer scientists of the future.”