Sustainability-themed low-cost science experiments created by students around the globe at Pueblo Science’s hackathon

BEST/Lassonde had the honor of supporting this Hackathon and have Lisa Cole, Director of K2I Academy at Lassonde School of Engineering, joined the Judging Panel. The Pueblo Science hosted 80 student participants for a two-weekend hackathon this September to create new science experiment kits for low-resource schools in the Philippines. “Ideally, teaching about how science affects SDGs will lead students to start thinking about what they can do locally to alleviate challenges and enhance the sustainability of communities in the Philippines. We want them to learn the science and be inspired to become a changemaker” explained Anji Zhang, the co-chair of the Hackathon for Science Education.

Participating teams were required to keep the cost of one-time kits $5 or less, and the cost of re-useable kits less than $20, and that all materials used in the design must be readily available for a teacher in a rural part of the Philippines.

To help them out with their ideas and prototype, Pueblo Science invited mentors to provide guidance and encouragement. The combination of that and the participants’ creativity and hard work lead to some great projects which can be implemented into Pueblo’s teacher training programs.

“[This was] an unconventional hackathon that drives people to discover passion and puts their knowledge and skills to the test,” participant Stanley L. commented. “We [got] to create real solutions for real people!”

The 13 completed projects (which included both a prototype of the experiment and a written teachers’ manual) were evaluated by two expert judging panels and three teams were selected for prizes.

Two winners were selected: the team led by Sydney Mendoza who created a model of how earthquake damage can be mitigated through the physics of waves, and the team led by Chirag Chopra who built a device that can clean debris from the ocean surface. The two winning teams will each receive $250 in gift cards in addition to $300 in cash.

The gift card prizes were generously donated by the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) Program at York University.