Hackathon prepares learners for fourth industrial revolution economy

August 15th, 2019, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Accenture hosted a STEM hackathon for learners from Alexandra, Diepsloot, and Olievenhoutbosch on 20 July 2019, to enable them to visualise the data used in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum in a practical manner. The hackathon stimulated learners’ interest in STEM careers and the experience will help prepare them for the fourth industrial revolution economy.

Forty-five learners who were split into six groups comprising teams of between seven and eight learners. It was designed to impart new technical skills on learners from disadvantaged communities to boost their chances of future employment and meaningfully participate in the future township economy.

Statistics South Africa’s unemployment data for the first quarter of 2019 showed that youth aged 15 to 24 years are the most vulnerable in the domestic labour market as the unemployment rate among this demographic cohort was 55,2%, far above the national jobless rate of 27,6% for the same period. Even among graduates in this age group, the unemployment rate was still 31%.

One of the reasons for South Africa’s disproportionately high youth unemployment rate is the lack of math and science skills, particularly among the youth. South Africa has consistently ranked at or near the bottom in math and science education competitive surveys by the World Economic Forum or the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

At Accenture’s Hackathon, learners in the first three groups were tasked with building a telegraph out of everyday objects to reinforce their understanding of electrical energy and its role in communications. They then used a customised workbook to send and receive information in Morse code using their telegraph.

The other three groups built robotic models from cardboard and straws to understand the anatomy and biomechanics of the human hand. Learners conducted trials visualising data in Excel to generate new ideas for improving the performance of their robotic models. Winning teams were selected and awarded medals during the prize-giving at the end of the day.

Contact Accenture South Africa, Tel 011 208-3000, www.accenture.co.za

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