‘A Better World’ STEAM Challenge has a Winner!
Penny Atkinson, Volunteer Writer
The Breteau Foundation is proud to announce the winner for their Better World STEAM Challenge. In April this year, we called upon students in Latin America to develop STEAM solutions to address one of two topics: What could we do in this new COVID world to resume some of the activities we did pre-COVID?, and, How can we make learning engaging and fun whilst schools remain closed or disrupted? These budding STEAM aspirants were invited to collaborate with friends to submit a proposal for how they would address one of these issues and develop prototypes for their solutions using STEAM methodology. Their submissions were assessed on criteria including innovation, sustainability and impact.
Our winning proposal, by fifteen year old Paola Alvaréz of Bolivia, responded to the increasing necessity for digital literacy, which was acutely highlighted during the pandemic. Paola had been concerned to learn that over the past year, many of her classmates had not engaged with virtual learning, either due to lack of resources and opportunity at home, or because they did not recognise the educational value in employing technology. To address this issue, Paola presented the idea of a STEAM app that teaches 21st century skills to people of all ages, empowering users to engage with new technologies.
Winning this competition has strengthened Paola’s confidence in pursuing a career in technology, but in order for today’s youth to realise their full potential, Paola believes that more access to STEAM is necessary for “complete and innovative learning”. “I learned its importance in our daily lives and how we can use these educational ideas for different projects”. She hopes that the Foundation’s future challenges will further grow different areas of STEAM and reach even more young people from across all backgrounds in Latin America. Paola hopes to “change the world and teach others” and is now inspired to be “a professional in the technology sector”.
The Breteau Foundation drew upon the expertise of a panel of STEAM champions: Jorge Ramirez of Lenovo, @Education.Soul founders Juan Manuel Pico and Martha Gomez, Kasia Bracho of IBM, and Liz Gallo of Whymaker. Of the 132 young people who registered in the Challenge, five finalists were selected to be reviewed by our judging panel. The judges assessed each submission based on set criteria which included creativity, viability, impact, sustainability, and rigour and reason.
Our panel all agreed that not only was her entry highly innovative, but displayed a thorough development of her idea and clear steps to achieve it. Paola’s prize is a Breteau Foundation tablet. She also wins free access to some of the Foundation’s favourite educational apps, as do the competition’s runners up.
The Breteau Foundation is delighted to see how much Paola has learned from the Challenge, and thanks all the judges and participants who have taken part. The support and contributions have been truly inspiring and we’re excited to continue growing our STEAM programme to reach more children in Latin America.