Pitch 2 Panel Competition
An online competition to showcase student outcomes, draws upon stakeholder expertise and suggests solutions to a pandemic.
Prior to COVID-19, Monash Tech School had committed program hours to several external competitions, which would have generated opportunities for partner school students to navigate the design thinking process and produce a prototype artefact.
The pandemic saw the early cancellation or rejig of a number of external competitions, leaving Monash Tech School with both a conundrum and an opportunity. How could we harness the early work and passion of students in an online environment, whilst grappling with an overwhelming new learning world? As the Tech School and our partner schools transitioned to an online world, delivering programs via zoom or teams, supporting our community and finding new ways to ease stress and lift learning, we were determined to deliver a fun and positive competition for students to showcase their work and receive professionals’ feedback.
The Pitch 2 Panel competition was created to provide a platform for our partner schools who had participated in Puzzling Play and the Young Change Agents programs during Term 2 isolation.
A competition would also create an opportunity for the Tech School to identify and support student entrants to the iAwards - a National competition delivered by our partner, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).
The Pitch 2 Panel competition needed a panel which would represent tertiary, industry and government stakeholders, as well as provide the real world feedback that students would need in order to enhance their prototype and develop their employability skills. After much deliberation, the panel was made up of representatives from Howmet Aerospace, City of Monash, BioQuistive and Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology.
The competition was promoted early, allowing students to continue to work on their ideas, with students appreciating that there would be a platform to present their prototype. Wellington Secondary College and John Monash Science School provided nine entrants from Year 9 and 10 levels.
Monash Tech School provided a dedicated facilitator to support and guide students who were generating the prototypes that were to be pitched on competition day.
Our Tech Team identified WebEx as being the universal platform that schools and organisations could easily access; and behind the scenes, staff worked to produce a schedule, instruction manual, links and scoring criteria that would create a straightforward and efficient system to use in a remote, online world.
On the day, student entrants pitched to our 4 panellists, with participants joining via webex from schools, home offices and workplaces. Whilst schools were offered the option to pre-record their pitch, all teams elected to pitch “live”. Entrants’ topics included Calming Cooking, Covid Care, Spectrum Gaming & Learning, Delivere, Healthify, Simplicity, Study Q, YOUTH and Co-Mera. Panellists and MTS staff were blown away by the level of creativity, the passion and professional approach shown by all entrants.
Student participation in the Pitch 2 Panel embedded cross-discipline learning outcomes including technical research and development and design thinking processes such as ideation, teamwork, communication, marketing, budgeting, time management, research and data analysis. These learning opportunities are considered by industry and tertiary providers to be “essential human skills” so students have had an opportunity, through the design thinking process, to really hone down and develop these skills early and develop them within a real world context. Participating students have a solutions based story to tell, when demonstrating to prospective employers and tertiary providers, the point of difference between their application and the next persons.
Pitch 2 Panel generated a genuine Design Thinking process approach to an initial problem, allowing for a prototype testing opportunity, which was provided by a panel from industry, local government, and tertiary institutions. It has demonstrated the quality outcomes that student participation in a Monash Tech School program can generate and it has parachuted industry stakeholders directly into the classroom environment.
“In my interactions with local businesses they often raise the issue of talent stream, and their perceived difficulty in recruiting talent with work ready, adaptive soft skills rather than the technical know-how. To see local secondary students come up with such creative projects, to have undertaken market research, designed solutions and pitched in such a competent way will provide me with great stories to instil hope in local businesses about the talents of the students coming through.”
Paula Brennan - City of Monash Economic Development Unit