Geekulcha Vacation Work programme seen a number of youngsters flock into mLab at the Innovation Hub to learn and build “stuff” and learn about mobile apps, web, electronics and business/entrepreneurship development. Future GeekStars in the making, they spent a week acquiring skills from the geeks of Geekulcha who were assigned roles of mentors and tutors. Geekulcha hosted candidates from grade 6 to 12, the youngest being a 12 year old.
The programme launched at MaxumMonday which was specially organized for the vacation workers.
Coming from different areas such as Soshanguve, Hammanskraal, Attridgeville, Thembisa, Midrand, Centurion and the inner parts of the City of Tshwane, the young geekstars were taught the values and responsibilities of a real work environment. They were designated to be at work from 09:00 until 16:00. Each day, each vacation worker had to submit their day’s work to their assigned mentor for assessment .
The vac workers were challenged to think out of the box, be innovative, take initiative, be collaborative and take responsibility for the tasks and projects they were assigned. These projects were assigned based on topics they could relate to and results produced but he four teams are listed below:
(1) ICT Xplorer/>
A Windows Phone app that takes high school learners through a tour of the world of ICT developed by team “GeekTech4Teen”. The team decided to create a character, Vuyie, who interacts with users through the app. This team plans on publishing the app during the coming week and were provided with DreamSpark accounts through Geekulcha.
Another Windows Phone app by team GeekTech4Teen. This app teaches users about poetry and guides them to become a phenomenal poet like the team’s own member, Glendar Baloyi. The app was given as a bonus after the team mastered how to use App and Visual studio in only three days.
(3) School Reinvented
Looking at schools of the future, team DOT created a web application platform to give young people a platform to raise their voices of how they want future schooling and schools to be, and create reinvented schools. The website also aims to highlight current best practices in schools. This platform is now live online at schoolreinvented.geekulcha.com and there are plans to make it even bigger and better.
(4) Traffic Hack
With frustration of traffic congestions, team RoboGeeks was challenged with an electronics system project to find ways of making traffic flow smoothly on our roads. Totally new to electronics, they had to learn and program Arduino and build a system’s prototype.
The aim of this project was to build density-dependent traffic light systems that changes the duration of traffic lights depending on traffic volumes using the different lanes of the roads. The project got the three grade 10 and 11s very excited about furthering their interests and become more innovative around the traffic solutions needed in South Africa.
(5) Business Model Canvas
Team “Business Geeks” had a project and roles in Business analysis, building the bases for all the projects being developed. The team was trained in Business/Entrepreneurship mindset and worked on building business/revenue models as their first task of their assignment and also had the responsibility of the documenting the projects.
All the projects were on a learn and implementation basis and executed in a space of only five days. Teams did wire-framing of the projects/applications and they were advised to design with reuse and reusability in mind.
The closing ceremony followed a Braai, and was a formal wear occasion where the youngsters presented and demonstrated the functionality of the projects to their “client” (Geekulcha), mentors, sponsors and general entrepreneurs of the Innovation Hub. Keynotes were given by Miss Pholile Mhlanga (Geekulcha BA mentor), Gary Bannatyne (the Innovation Hub, Maxum), ThoughtWorks and the City of Tshwane Representatives and all speakers iterated the opportunity to become solutions/entrepreneurial leaders.
Certificates of completion and acknowledgement were issued to the youngsters.
Feedback from Vacation Workers
Many of the vac workers voiced a need to extend the programme while others indicated that they will be joining Geekulcha for the next season.
Here is what some had to say:
“I do Business studies in school, it was nice to see the principles being applied in the real world”, said Sibusiso Mdlovu, a matriculant.
“I hate that they (fellow team members) call me a boss. We are all bosses!”, 12-year old Nkateko Hlongwane said.
“This week made me realize that I don’t have to look for a job, I can be my own boss”, said grade learner, Malwandla Ngoveni.
Statement by Geekulcha
We would acknowledge the following entities who helped make this a success; mLab Southern Africa for the hackerspace and computing resources. The Innovation Hub for providing food, stationary during the course. City of Tshwane for providing transport all week. ThoughtWorks (YAT) for food (lunch) provision and more stationary resources to profile the candidates. Durban Hub for the Mentorship in Business/Entrepreneurship.
We are already getting requests for the next placement in the programme and we hope that it will only get bigger and better to reach many young minds across the country.
Geekulcha Vacation Work programme is part the Future GeekStars initiated by Mr. Tiyani Nghonyama and this is what he had to say: “My strongest belief is that the way to address the country’s skills shortage issue, is to listen to the voices of the future, the unrealized skills of the young people. Let’s all try to invest time and faith into the young ones because they might actually know something we don’t that could save the future”
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