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Announcing the Winners of the EdTech Challenge: Revolutionizing Learning for Urban Children

Innovators from 26 Countries Collaborated to Generate New Ideas

Published November 01, 2019

October 29, New York – Three winning teams from across the globe were recognized with cash prizes for their creative, technology-based solutions to enhance quality education for primary and secondary students in Jakarta, and in urban areas around the world.

The EdTech Challenge was launched in July 2019 by the New York Academy of Sciences—with the support of Project Everyone, the Islamic Development Bank, 2030 Vision, and UNICEF Innovation—as a means of supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal #4: Quality Education for All.

Twenty-nine teams from 26 different countries submitted solutions, all participating via the Academy's virtual collaboration platform, Launchpad. The solutions were evaluated by a distinguished panel of education and technology experts, including representatives from Project Everyone, E-Learning Uncovered, ARM, UNICEF, and the National Research Council of Canada.

The grand prize winners were Saira Mallick, a learning experience designer and founder of Akkar Bakkar Studio, and Saad Nadeem, a research scholar at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, both based in New York City. The winning team received a $7,000 prize for their creation of a research-based app designed to be used in connection with a textbook. The app includes culturally relevant animated video lessons, and interactive, self-directed learning practice exercises. It also incorporates simulated role-play using animated avatars, as well as self-peer assessments to track progress.

The second-place team, sharing a $5,000 prize, includes: Maria Gitau, Admissions Assistant at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya; Bazaf Hassan from the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore, Pakistan; Kelvin Ogba Dafiaghor, CEO at Ogba Educational Clinic in Effurun, Nigeria; Meghna Badami, an undergraduate at Mysore Medical College in Bangalore, India; Boris Massesa, a student at Ilboru Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Venkatesan Subramaniyan, a private consultant from Badlapur, India. The team was recognized for their creation of math and English learning modules that incorporate Indonesian folk tales, and familiar cultural characters, into the curriculum.

The third-place team, Danyal Naeem from Islamabad, Pakistan, and Megan Cho from Colorado Spring, Colorado, will take home a prize of $3,000 for their design of a web-based platform that acts as a digital learning assistant. The platform measures and tracks individual progress, and uses competency scoring to personalize content for each user.

“We were impressed by the quality and thoughtfulness of the solutions submitted,” said Ellis Rubinstein, President, and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences. "It's always intriguing to see the incredible creativity behind these ideas, and they often have the potential to become scalable projects that can truly advance progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“Of all the proposals, the Inggriss Buddy team did the best job of taking best practices for technology-based English language education and adjusting them for the cultural context in Jakarta,” said Diane Elkins, Co-Founder of E-Learning Uncovered. “They made a great case for how existing English language apps wouldn’t align with some cultural goals and norms in Indonesia and included a clear plan for simple changes to increase that alignment.”

About New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at nyas.org. Twitter: @NYASciences