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Manchester Grammar wins Schools Innovation Challenge

Pupils were challenged to connect the unconnected, using technology to make people's lives easier

Posted by Hannah Vickers | July 17, 2017 | Technology

Manchester Grammar School has been crowned the winner of the first CityVerve Next Generation: Schools Innovation Challenge. The team from Manchester Grammar School were announced the winners in a presentation which demonstrated their ideas of products or services that could improve people’s lives and benefit the local community by connecting everyday things together with technology. 

Hosted at Citylabs, in the heart of Manchester’s innovation district, the winning team from Manchester Grammar School devised a smart transport card idea. Titled ‘Vision’, the idea encourages citizens to swap cars for public transport in exchange for redeemable rewards – called Visbits - in a network of local shops.

The CityVerve Next Generation: Schools Innovation Challenge aimed to improve both business and life skills as well as immerse pupils in the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), by encouraging students aged 11 to 13 to solve a problem, then design and develop a solution. The challenge encouraged teamwork and creativity, providing industry experience and guidance throughout the pupils’ journey, with the final being judged by esteemed individuals, such as: 

The challenge also included finalists from Manchester Communications Academy, who thought up an app that would help people find parking spaces, to save time, make travel easier and reduce pollution. With potential future integration with autonomous vehicles, the team from Manchester Communications Academy impressed the judges with their forward-thinking.

While there could only be one winner of the challenge, it was decided that both Manchester Grammar School and Manchester Communications Academy will have the chance to work with the CityVerve project developers to bring their ideas to life, as well as have a classroom of innovation set up in their schools. Installed by Cisco, the classroom of innovation will include: a 3D printer, Arduino boards, Raspberry Pis, IoT sensors and an oscilloscope. The innovation installation will provide a lasting legacy, ensuring that pupils will have the opportunity to further supplement their learning from the initiative and develop advanced skills in coding, computing and programming

Led by Manchester City Council, CityVerve is made up of 21 partners from the public, corporate, SME and academic worlds, who have united to transform the city and create endless possibilities for the people that live and work there, a smart, innovative, inspiring Manchester. 

The winning team showed enthusiasm throughout and their innovative ideas made them truly stand out. I am excited to see what the future holds for these young people - Mark Duncan, Strategic Lead – Resources & Programmes and CityVerve Lead, Manchester City Council

Mark Duncan, Strategic Lead – Resources & Programmes and CityVerve Lead, Manchester City Council said: “The CityVerve Next Generation: School’s Innovation Challenge gives young people in Manchester the opportunity to showcase their innovative skills through the application of forward thinking, digital and STEM skills thought processes. 

"I’m delighted Manchester Grammar School has been crowned the winner of the Innovation Challenge and would like to personally thank the schools and children for their contributions, as well as congratulating them on their innovative and thought provoking ideas displayed. The winning team showed enthusiasm throughout and their innovative ideas made them truly stand out. I am excited to see what the future holds for these young people.”

Frederick Baker, Teacher at Manchester Grammar School, said: “The pupils have gained experience and skills relating to decision making and problem solving whilst enjoying the experience of presenting and being involved in a professional environment and outside the school. Pupils have also been encouraged to think about a problem that needed them to find out information relating to multiple disciplines, which is excellent helps them reflect the skills needed beyond school.” 

Frank Boldy, Teacher at Manchester Communications Academy said: “MCA took part in this project because it was clear from the outset that it was going to be something that would enable pupils to get their teeth stuck into something a bit different. It has enabled them to use a range of skills and ideas to come up with an exciting idea to support in building a 'smart' Manchester.

Being a school so close to the City Centre, pupils at MCA have been able to relate to the project as they recognise some of the issues that Manchester faces. Including MCA into CityVerve has enabled the school and pupils to stay abreast of current initiatives running within Manchester and has helped the school to feel part of the Manchester Community.”

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