CBU & NSCC Students Solve UN Millennium Development goal to win top prize in Global Hackathon

On Friday, November 21, 2014, members of the Island Sandbox Global Social hackathon team took first place in the international event.

Social Storm was an event that took place at leading universities across the world and brought together a dynamic mix of designers, coders and business minded individuals, through their passion to positively impact the world. International teams worked simultaneously throughout the 24 hour period on solutions to social problems, from poverty and health to environmental threats to our climate.

“This was our first Island Sandbox standalone event,” says Derek Mombourquette, Island Sandbox Coordinator.  “To have students compete and collaborate with students all over the world and be part of the winning team is fantastic. They worked together with a team from Loughborough University in the UK to come up with the winning idea and they really deserve it, they worked extremely hard on the project. We’re also very pleased to have had 12 local participants in the event. It reinforces that the appetite for these types of events is there.”

The local team was comprised of Cape Breton University student, Brian Best, Nova Scotia Community College, Marconi campus student, Marshall Radziwilko, and Steven Rolls, Customer Satisfaction Specialist from Marcato Festival, based in Sydney.

The teams were provided information about global education, such as the fact that in 2011, 57 million children of primary school age were out of school and in 2012 one in 10 children of primary school age were out of school. Their challenge was to come up with a solution to the United Nations Millennium Development goal; ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, would have access and be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. They were given 24 hours to come up with a solution.

“Education is such a huge problem not only for the third world but here at home,” says Best, who is also a member of the UIT Start-up Immersion program. “There is no one answer but something simple as just having a teacher available is huge! In many countries kids are absolutely willing to learn but there are no teachers to teach them. Absenteeism of teachers in Africa is mostly due either direct physical threats or biases like gender discrimination. Our solution, called GEMS, is an educational tool that would be used in tandem with a military operation or humanitarian aid mission.”

The group spent time focusing on the various issues surrounding why children fail to complete their primary school education including poverty, lack of family support and structure, access to school and quality education, and the struggle to engage children within the classroom.

“These events help promote entrepreneurship in non-traditional ways, exposing students to real world problems and allowing them to design solutions,” adds Mombourquette. “This event in particular represents the strong partnership of CBU and NSCC Marconi students working together on projects now and into the future. “

“Education is something I'm really passionate about and I believe that anyway I help that cause is worthwhile,” adds Best. “I also happen to really enjoy practicing my craft, coding, so hackathons like this happen to align really well with my goals. It’s opened my mind to other markets outside of North America. I think the team is really excited about this but we need support from a government or the UN in order to make it viable for its intended use. Development will continue on but we need support to make it happen.”

The winners will receive an international cash prize. A prototype of the team’s app is available at: http://104.131.82.8/