Earlier this week I was lucky enough to visit The Charter School in Southwark, London along with my fellow Lab colleague Fahran to judge their Young Enterprise Challenge. The Young Enterprise Challenge is now in it’s second year at the school and tasks year 7 students to design an app to fulfil a problem set by a real organisation.
This year three challenges were set, one by us at O2 which challenged the pupils to design an app to advertise a new device to our customers and to help them understand all of the great benefits the device could give them. The other two challenges were set by businesses local to the school, one to advertise the services provided by a local therapy centre and another to provide information about the local area. The challenges were set around 10 weeks prior to our visit and were undertaken by all year 7 students during their IT classes.
Upon our arrival the students were in their weekly assembly and were ready to begin presenting their apps to myself and Fahran along with the other organisations involved. We had the chance to listen to presentations from nine teams and also ask them questions and it’s fair to say that we were blown away by the effort that the students had put into their designs. We were also impressed by the confidence they had shown when presenting in front of strangers, their entire year group and their teachers.
They didn’t just create wireframes and add them to a presentation either, they had created fully functioning apps using AppShed. They included features such as Google Maps integration for directions to the nearest store, contact details to enable direct calls to our customer service teams and links to be able to be able to purchase a device directly from the O2 website.
After the presentations we left the assembly room to determine the winning team…now that was a hard task! Every team deserved to win as they were all fantastic but in the end we did have to pick one team and went back to the assembly room to award them. The winning app had been designed to provide information about the local therapy centre and was packed with features and content. It also had a great UI and the students had clearly thought about UX as they had chosen a relaxing colour theme which really brought the essence of the therapy centre to life.
This whole experience left me feeling inspired. It’s great to see a school that really values technology, IT, computing and business education. As the students progress through school they will begin to learn more about programming starting with Scratch and using tools like App Inventor to program Android applications. By the time these students leave school and enter the world of work they really will be ready for the challenge proposed by a world which is becoming more and more defined by software and technology in general.