When I met Vivi Ponce at Tea Connection in the Providencia comuna of Santiago, she reminded me of one of my dear friends and mentors (Hi, Marilou McFarlane!). One of the reasons being that Vivi’s passion for her job is infectious. Vivi is the executive director of Chile’s chapter of Technovation challenge. She believes every girl should be out there pitching and building her own ideas. We’ve been collaborating to bring this vision to life in Chile.

Technovation Challenge is a worldwide competition that teaches girls to code. The girls use the skills they’ve learned to build Android applications that address problems within their community. Everyone submits their applications to a platform, where judges review and select 10 winners to pitch their apps at the finals in Silicon Valley.

Chile has two teams applying for the 2017 competition. I had the pleasure of seeing both teams pitch their work-in-progress at Chile’s regional pitch event at the W Hotel in Las Condes. The girls explained the functionality of their app and received feedback from a panel of judges.

I was so stoked when Vivi asked me to become a mentor for one of the teams. I began working with a team of three girls from Colegio Regina Mundi, a semi-private school in Macul. The girls are building an application that delivers personalized menus based on your health profile.

After the pitch event, our goal was to incorporate the feedback from the judges and get everything finalized before the fast approaching competition deadline. My job was to help the girls synthesize all that they’d learned and submit the final deliverables. The girls did a great job of hustling.

The girls were asked to create a succinct pitch video, that demonstrates the need, how the product addresses the need and business model. The pitch also had to be in English. The girls had already developed their app, I helped them to translate their ideas into a short video. Here it is.

The girls had also hand drawn screens of their application. I helped them use a tool called Moqups, to create digital wireframes of their application. The screenshots at the top of the page were done completely by Isi, who found she had a special knack for design.

Breaking down this case study

Until I have a more formalized structure for how to evaluate my teaching experiences, I am just going to brain dump all of my impressions here.

Format of teaching: project-based

Group size: 3 students

Applications used: Moqups

This case study made me realize a few things:

  • When students believe in the project, their work can be so engaging that they’ll find themselves working on the weekend. Projects have the benefit of showing students the practical applications of learning skills.
  • Doing is better than showing. Once I got the students working in a program on the computer, they learned quickly. They are digital natives, technical skills come very naturally to them. I had the best luck by handing my computer over to them.
  • Provide structure to ensure students don’t get lost. When my students were unsure of what was required, they were ready to drop out of the competition and let all the work they’d done go unfinished.