App-y ending for COVID-inspired work

Three students at Warners Bay High School have won the 2023 Tech Girls NSW Secondary School competition. Sven Wright reports.

Three female students and an adult standing facing the camera Three female students and an adult standing facing the camera
Image: Warners Bay High School’s 2023 Tech Girls Competition team Imogen Smith, Ami Bromhead and Sophie Elston with their coach, teacher Lisa Chawner.

A tool used to break down COVID isolation has also helped a team of Warners Bay High School students break down career stereotypes.

Imogen Smith, Sophie Elston and Ami Bromhead created an app to make it much easier for students, study buddies, study groups, teachers and tutors to collaborate when they are not together at school.

The team developed the TEACHU app during the COVID-19 lockdown period and entered it in this year’s Tech Girls competition.

Judges were impressed with the innovation shown by the students, commenting “the girls are truly remarkable, and they certainly have a thing or two to teach us all”.

Tech Girls is a foundation encouraging girls aged seven to 17 to explore technology, take a lead in developing it, and pursue subjects for career paths towards leadership in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Since 2014, nearly 11,000 girls at more than 500 Australian and New Zealand schools have participated in Tech Girls. This year’s competition was run in Term 2.

The girls’ coach, teacher Lisa Chawner, said the competition gave girls an extra incentive to overcome the stereotype of technology being a male-dominated arena.

“We encourage all our students to follow their passions across all our subjects,” she said.

“But that doesn’t mean traditional broader social expectations don’t exist, so if we can make sure our students are considering all career options with a clean slate, we know that they’ll be playing to their strengths in their studies and post-school choices.”

The students were also supported by Lyndal Hamwood, a Tech Girls mentor from NSW and business owner.

The competition emphasises practical problem-solving, fostering interpersonal skills, teamwork, and business awareness, as well as STEM skills in areas like coding and robotics.

It supports industry partnerships as well as school and parent collaboration.

Since the competition started, the foundation has helped more than 40 girls pitch winning apps and ideas to contacts in Silicon Valley in the United States.

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