On the 6th March 2018, all Year 11 pupils studying either GCSE Digital Technology or BTEC I&CT were treated to an award-winning program from the brilliant minds of those behind Young Enterprise Northern Ireland.
This new initiative, ‘Digital Youth’, was first launched in 2017 and aims to help young people, like us here at Markethill, to become more acquainted and confident in our digital capabilities as well as showing us where these skills fit in to the world of work, business and employment.
To begin, we were split into groups (as you usually are at many of these events) before being introduced to Caroline O’Neill. During her speech we were welcomed to the scheme and told the curriculum for the day, which largely revolved around us thinking up our own business proposal. Following this informative introduction, the organisers decided to test us with a short quiz which was to be answered using small, 90’s themed, phone like devices (only natural given the technological theme of this workshop; pen and paper would not do!).
Once this fairly challenging quiz; scrap fairly, let’s say… VERY challenging quiz, had been completed and every single button on the “90’s themed, phone like devices” had been thoroughly pressed, another speaker took to the stage. This was Donal Mckenna, Director and founder of the European rail-travel and accommodation company “Interrailing Packages”, one of only two businesses of its kind in the UK and Ireland. Donal talked to us about his experiences in setting up his own business, his inspiration and motivation behind the idea and finally how he set about achieving his goal with the help of technology. This speech proved very emotive and when the time came to finally brainstorm ideas for our own products I do believe Donal’s words gave everyone a boost.
Earlier we had been told, “every business exists to solve a problem,” and so that’s what each group was tasked with creating: a technology orientated product that solved a problem. After an extensive planning session; choosing a target audience, thinking of problems said audience would face, thinking of ways to solve said problems for said audience, everyone was finally ready to start to think about how they could make these concepts into accessible, easy to use products. With Young Enterprise and Digital Youth representatives offering the teams a helping hand and some much-needed expert advice each party managed to produce a rather interesting final product.
Plenty of farming themed products obviously made an appearance, but with pitches ranging from a robot to scold pet-vandals (that is a pet that damages your wallpaper) to an app capable of catering to your every need in the field of expeditions, every idea was unique and sellable in its own individual way. One team was chosen by Donal for their winning product and this team’s idea was then put forward to the next round of the competition, in which there are a total of 12 schools competing.
To conclude, this enlightening and extremely enjoyable workshop was definitely a wonderful experience for all involved and on behalf of Markethill High School I would like to thank Young Enterprise for their very well thought out session. Everyone, both Digital Technology and ICT classes alike, learned a great deal about real world applications of technology and how they can succeed as an entrepreneur in the rapidly developing 21st century.
By Dylan Haire 11JN