Youth innovators chosen for app development contest
Seven Rotorua high school students have been chosen to have their app ideas made into reality as part of Techweek 23.
Techweek23 (15 – 19 May) is Aotearoa New Zealand’s biggest tech and innovation festival and Rotorua Lakes Council helped to deliver the festival locally with a programme of free public events and an app design contest, bringing a mix of live, virtual and hybrid events that foster technology and innovation growth.
As part of Techweek23, Council partnered with local app developer Matt Browning, from Triple Scoop, to offer an app design contest for youth. Entries aligned with one or more of the five festival themes - social impact, environment, business innovation, wellbeing and culture.
Mr Browning says he was overwhelmed with the quality of app submissions and as a result, picked three winning ideas instead of one.
“We received 55 awesome submissions – it was a hard task selecting a finalist and in the end I’ve made three apps due to the incredible ideas submitted.
“The winning ideas are a waste minimisation app, pest eradication app and a mental health support app. The mental health app is actually a combined one which came from five separate submissions with the same theme across five different schools so it seemed like a heartbeat within our community that we couldn’t ignore.”
Rotorua Lakes Council Community Wellbeing Advisor, Felicity Jansonius-Bidois says the app design contest winners range from 13 to 16 years old and are from John Paul College, Rotorua Boys High School, Rotorua Lakes High School and Western Heights High School.
“Techweek and Youth Week launching at the same time was really exciting for us so we came up with the competition because the leaders of today are already here in our community.
“We’re fortunate to have support from our local community and especially Matt Browning who has now built three apps for free to support this kaupapa that ignites the technology and innovation passion in our rohe.”
The winners were interviewed on National Techweek TV last week briefly detailing their ideas and the impact their app could have on the community.
The waste minimisation app is a tool to help people easily identify what can and can’t be recycled, composted or sent to landfill in your area by using Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Connecting hunters and landowners with pest problems is the idea behind the pest eradication app that will help contribute to New Zealand’s Predator Free 2050 goals.
The mental health app will combine wellbeing tools such as breathing exercises, where to get help and daily affirmations into an easily accessible platform.
Mr Browning says it’s humbling to see the students see their ideas become a reality.
“We couldn’t have selected a better group of smart young innovators – I knew they were out there. It’s been a great experience connecting with other local innovators to empower our youth and provide them with tools to make a difference in our community. This process has shown us our young people have the solutions to issues in our community.”
The three apps have been built and the students will meet regularly to test, refine, create content and market their apps to the community.