Six students impressed judges when they pitched their original designs for apps aimed at helping children who are affected by homelessness yesterday.
The Barking & Dagenham College Career College IT students, all aged 17-18, got the amazing opportunity to work on a live digital project – giving them hands on industry experience, while supporting a homelessness charity.
They first visited Amazon Web Services (AWS) offices in The City back in March, when they were tasked with developing apps to support the launch of three new children’s books produced by homelessness charity, The Roberts Centre. The books featured the charity’s mascot Robert Bear and help to explain homelessness in a way that children can understand and relate to.
Over eight weeks and working to a ‘budget’ of £60k, students had to cost the whole project out, breaking it down into labour costs, expenses, materials, etc.
Yesterday, the teenagers had the nerve-wracking challenge of presenting their project plans to representatives from AWS, the charity and the organiser of the project, Career Colleges Trust. The room was also packed out with fellow students, teachers and students from two other Career Colleges. It was the first time any of the students had done anything like it.
A team of four Barking & Dagenham College students impressed the judging panel and were awarded the prize for ‘Best Solution’. Edward Flack, 18, from Wickford Essex, was part of the winning team, he explained: “I was quite nervous getting up on stage and being up there but I got a lot from it. I got good presentation experience from it and I learnt how to develop an app and how to get an app onto the App Store.
“We developed an app that has an e-book and a questionnaire that children could do with their parents and that parents could use to work out how their children are feeling and how they might react in certain situations.
“The app is called ‘Rob bear makes someone happy’ and it will be free to download in a few days.”
And, after hearing that his team won, Ubaida Bbaale, 17, from East Ham said: “It feels really great. It’s such an accomplishment that we’ve come so far. It’s a really great experience.”
Carole Damper MBE, CEO of The Roberts Centre was one of the judges: “I thought today was mind blowing. I saw more enthusiasm, more talent and more commitment than I could ever have dreamt possible. For the charity, doors have opened; we’re going to think about ways of how we can get the messages across and get information across to children and families in a way we would never have dreamed of before these young people have opened doors for us.
“For the young people, well my goodness, the World’s their oyster. I think this is a great opportunity for young people to stand up, achieve a task and work together as a team. An experience like this only happens to a very few people, so it can only be a good thing for them.”