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How regional teens are embracing technology for change at Telstra Vantage 2019

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 16, 2019

4 min read

At Telstra Vantage 2019, we invited high school students from regional Australia to take the stage and present their tech solutions to the real-world problems facing their communities.

Bringing together leaders from the technology industry, ‘Tomorrow’s leaders embracing technology for change’ at Telstra Vantage 2019 was designed to help attendees draw inspiration from young minds.

In collaboration with Telstra Foundation partner Young Change Agents, high school students showcased innovative ideas and helped Telstra Enterprise partners gain a fresh perspective on technology.

Young Change Agents is a design-thinking based social entrepreneurship program for 10 to 18-year-olds that provides students with the tools to think creatively, build skills in critical thinking and communication, and empowers them to become entrepreneurs, leaders and world-changers.

Over three days, the four teams of students completed a design thinking process with Young Change Agents to identify real-world issues facing their community. They ideated potential solutions, developed a business model, and then validated, prototyped and pitched their ideas to our panel of judges – Mike Ebeid, Telstra Enterprise Group Executive, Jackie Coates, Head of Telstra Foundation, Kate Stewart, Telstra Head of Education Partnerships, and Sally Capp, Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

The students pitched some inspiring innovation ideas:

Farm Watch: health tracking data for farm animals

Narromine High School, Narromine (West of Dubbo)

This team’s idea comes from using existing tracking systems (wearable tech bands for livestock) to an app that extracts research from data sets collected from the tracking systems. The data collected can be sold or donated to science or research and help educate schools and the public.

Mike Ebeid said, “This idea certainly speaks to everything that we do here at Telstra. Keeping a track of livestock is really important for farmers and helping to solve that is great because most farmers I know care a lot about their animals. It will also help people to see and appreciate the work of farmers. It’s a really good idea.”

Link Lamp: connecting people through light to relieve loneliness

Keira High School, Wollongong

How might we make people who are lonely feel more connected to others? This team came up with smart connected lamps that are paired so when one person touches their lamp, it sends a signal to the other one resulting in light appearing. This shows that the other person is thinking of them and they are not alone.

Sally Capp said, “This idea pulled at my heartstrings.  I’ve got a son in the United States at the moment and I think if I had this lamp (and I would love one), I would’ve been pushing that button every moment of today so that he knows I’m thinking of him.

There’s no doubt that even though we are more connected than ever, the mental health surveys tell us…that people are suffering from social isolation more than ever before. It’s just little ideas like this that can make such a big difference and a big impact.”

Travel on the Gravel: VR learning experiences for long bus rides to school

Trangie High School, Trangie (West of Dubbo)

Bus companies find that students get up to mischief on long bus rides. Students find bus travel boring and parents want their kids to productively use their time on long bus rides. If local buses have virtual reality headsets, bus trips could educate and entertain youth and allow the students to virtually experience situations they wouldn’t normally be exposed to.

Jackie Coates said, “No one knows the tyranny of distance more than a regional student who travels hours a day to and from school on the same long and winding road. 

I love how this idea uses virtual reality to solve a real problem and the students did some excellent work scoping their business plan and hustling a local bus company to run their prototype.”

Happy Patch Packs: veggie garden packs using sensors connected to an app

Trangie High School, Trangie (West of Dubbo)

How might we help local families grow fresh produce without using too much available water resources? This team wants to create a self-watering/data measuring fresh fruit and vegetable garden growing kit helping people in remote or drought-affected communities to gain access to fresh food.

Kate Stewart, “Hearing from the students how tough it is in regional communities when it comes to accessing fresh veggies and water and the costs for families, I think this idea is fantastic. I love how the team has incorporated a tech solution in what is a very sustainable and clever idea and how you’ve solved a local community challenge.”  

Thanks to the Young Change Agents team and the amazing high school students involved who helped us to deliver a great event at Telstra Vantage 2019.