I’ve had the great opportunity to directly work with 2-3 Technovation Challenge teams over the past 2 years during my Peace Corps service. This past year I worked with the team, “Girls in the Power” from Balti composed of 4 high school girls and an amazing computer teacher from their school.
For most of the girls who were between 14-16 years old, this was their first time doing anything like this and working together as a team. Their computer teacher, Mrs. Inna has been teaching for a total of 10 years in informatics and this was also her first time to experience a program like this as well.
Technovation Challenge is the largest and longest-running tech competition for girls. In Moldova this is the 3rd year it has been happening here. For 12-weeks, girls ages 10-18 go through a curriculum with a mentor or coach. They learn how to identify a problem in their community and figure out a solution by creating a business plan and mobile app. Plus, all of this is done in English! An incredible challenge since for many of them all of these things are new to them.
The girls from “Girls in the Power” created a business plan and designed an app called ‘Emotional Test’ to address some of the problems teenagers face, such as difficult communication with adults, misunderstandings with their peers, dependence from the virtual world, desires to be confirmed by society and lack of trust, etc. Teen suicide is on the rise in Moldova, and girls are even more affected than boys. The app they created proposed a test to identify one’s emotional state and offers advice based on the results.
I met with the girls and Mrs. Inna a few weeks after this year’s program and local competition. We celebrated the end of the school year and all that they had learned and accomplished since we first met in January.
I asked them a few questions as we reflected over the past couple of months during the Technovation Challenge program.
Q: What did you learn from Technovation?
“I learned how to work in a team, to be more careful about small details, and patience.” – Catalina
“I learned interesting information from the psychologist we worked with. Also I learned how to make a business plan and how to make it interesting with info-graphics.” – Patrisia
“I learned about how to use a new program like AppInventor.” – Mrs. Inna
Q: What was the most challenging part?
“The most challenging part was working in a group and trying to implement the database into our app.” – Iulia
“Working in English was really challenging, but it helped us!” – Valeria & Patrisia
“It was challenging to prepare our presentation in English.” – Patrisia & Catalina
To note: For most of these girls they have never before presented in front of a large group of people nor have they done so in English.
Q: What was fun about Technovation?
“To immediately see the end result of making an app using AppInventor and the end result of everything when it all came together.” – Catalina
“To be able to see the results immediately after the girls did something in their project.” – Mrs. Inna
Q: Tell me something interesting or funny about when you were working on your project together…
“I learned how important it is to make sure you save your work. One day I was working on our app in the AppInventor program and we lost all the information I had just done. I had to rebuild it all over again. It was a hard lesson to learn.” – Catalina
“We had fun, we took time to dance together during our breaks (laughter).” – All
“It was a great experience and very interesting to go to the Moldova ICT Summit to learn about ICT in education in Moldova and to share about our experience.” – All
Q: What do you hope to do now after going through this experience?
“To take time to keep learning new things.” – Patrisia, Catalina
“We want to go to the Girls Go IT camp and to keep learning!” – All
They created a pitch video and demo video for their project…
It has been a joy to get to know these girls and Mrs. Inna during the Technovation Challenge program this year. For me, I watched their confidence soar as they learned new things together. My favorite moments were when they would exclaim out loud their excitement when accomplishing something new or seeing the results of their work immediately. To me, that’s what this program is all about in how these girls are gaining the confidence and interest in considering the field of technology whether it be on the front end with design or as a computer programmer. I look forward to seeing what each of these them does and where they go in the future! Bravo fete! Keep going!