Appathon UK winners to be crowned at House of Commons

John Bercow will acknowledge Appathon UK winners with an array of prizes, including a trip to Silicon Valley

John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, will acknowledge more than 100 schools and universities on 20 November for their innovative app ideas and prototypes submitted for the Appathon UK competition.

Teams will be congratulated on their work during a ceremony at the House of Commons, where prizes will be presented courtesy of an array of Appathon UK partners.

Appathon UK is a competition launched by the entrepreneurial education network Founders4Schools and not-for-profit technology events organiser Silicon Valley comes to the UK (SVC2UK), which challenges young people to find technology solutions for the challenges around them.

Partners of Appathon UK have offered up a long list of prizes for the winners, with the grand prize a trip to Silicon Valley for a tour of Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, PayPal and Square headquarters, among other activities during the trip.

Reid Hoffman, executive chairman of LinkedIn, provided guidance around the judging criteria to help students with their submissions. The final criteria focused on the submission’s impact, scalability, virality, originality and demo-ability.

Creative ideas from youngsters

Children as young as six entered their app ideas, detailing what they would like to use as an app themselves in everyday life.

For example, Smart Wardrobe is an app designed to help users organise their clothes in a revolving carousel wardrobe, and the Reading Expert app is aimed at helping children to read, write and spell, with each level using a different animal for learning.

University students took the best app ideas and prototyped them. For instance, the app idea Smart Wardrobe was chosen for development and became Smart Wear as a result. In addition, the app idea Reading Expert was developed into Clever Creatures.

Initiatives like Appathon UK not only boost innovation in schools, but they are critical in addressing the digital skills crisis by showing students what it’s like to create the technology they use

Sherry Coutu, Founders4Schools

Sherry Coutu, chairman of Founders4Schools, said: “This is the first year we have opened the doors for schoolchildren to create app ideas and I’m so glad we did. Their submissions have been tremendous and provided university students with a wealth of ideas, from which some brilliant prototypes have been created.

“It’s been satisfying for the judges to award prizes to such well-deserving teams. Initiatives like this not only boost innovation in schools, but they are critical in addressing the digital skills crisis by showing students what it’s like to create the technology they use in their everyday lives, not just use it.”

Nicola Schofield, an ICT technician at Merton Park Primary School in Wimbledon, explained what it was like to work on one of the app entries created by a group from year six (aged 10).

“It not only stimulated ideas, but necessitated much decomposition and abstraction – we had to really think about what might and might not be possible,” she said.

“I had no idea prior to this how well the children could collaborate – they brainstormed and agreed without any adults’ involvement over their lunchtime – and how inventive they could be.”

Michael Acton Smith, CEO of MindCandy, described Appathon UK as “a wonderful initiative that will tap into the creativity of students throughout the country”.

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