Examples of TPrize 2020’s winning projects include: a tool that helps entrepreneurs to connect with their mentors, a platform that supports teachers in rural areas, and a virtual assistant for young people looking for work.
The final of this call for educational innovation, launched by Tec de Monterrey and University of Los Andes, was held virtually at the Tec’s 7th International Conference on Educational Innovation.
The 5 winning TPrize projects responded to the challenge to design educational tools for lifelong skills-based learning. These are:
Lab4U (Chile - Mexico) - A pocket lab
This platform uses smartphone technology and sensors, so that students have access to practical education in sciences such as physics or chemistry.
Lab4U’s team also designs experiments based on principles of curiosity, to get students interested in science and to support theoretical learning.
“We took smartphones with built-in sensors, like camera microphones and accelerometers, and we transformed them into measuring instruments, where students can have a lab in their pockets,” explained Komal Dadlani, Lab4U co-founder.
MicroMentor (United States - Mexico) - Free mentoring for entrepreneurs
MicroMentor is a tool that works as a social network to help new entrepreneurs receive free personalized advice from business mentors.
The platform has more than 69,000 entrepreneurs and 25,000 mentors from 179 countries. To use it, you only need internet access and then create an account.
“Mentoring not only offers entrepreneurs access to social networks, financial resources, and new markets, but also a resource to improve their self-confidence, motivation, and build resilience,” said Tatiana Pérez, director of Global Programs at MicroMentor.
Ser Maestro (Peru) - Innovation platform for rural teachers
This project is made up of a network of innovators, who become volunteer advisers to teachers in rural areas, who’re interested in innovation.
The Ser Maestro founders developed a methodology called INNO, which works as a tool for designing and managing projects easily.
“We’ve managed to impact 1 million students; 15,000 teachers were trained as leaders who’ve succeeded in prototyping basic technology, and we’ve managed to sustain 625 communities with learning, both face-to-face and virtual,” said Jaime Montes, Ser Maestro founder.
ConHector (Colombia) - Job opportunity network for young people.
This is a virtual assistant that informs young people of job opportunities focused on their skills, as well as training that helps them access new opportunities.
The project also offers advice and guidance on entering the job market, through data analysis that in turn serves as feedback for employers and young people in the program.
“This virtual assistant connects people between the ages of 18 and 29 to job vacancies according to their skills; it provides them with guidance through practical tools; and leads them to job placement,” said Carolina Duarte, of ConHector.
Agricultural Biotechnology Academy (Chile) - Training for rural students
This is an educational program that -with expert advice- seeks to help young people develop projects to solve local agricultural problems with sustainable and innovative ideas.
It includes a number of training sessions on biotechnology tools and scientific research project formulation. These workshops include tools and theoretical and practical experience.
“To date, we’ve impacted more than 75 people -65% of whom are women- and we’ve generated more than 15 agricultural innovation projects. In January 2021, we’re training our third generation of students,” said Camila Martínez, founder of the project.
It also has the backing of MIT Solve, MIT’s social projects area, which provided its platform for holding the contest.
“This initiative arose as part of the La Tríada alliance, with an interest in contributing to the advancement and further promotion of educational innovation,” said David Garza, Tec de Monterrey’s rector and executive president.
Alejandro Gaviria, rector of Colombia’s University of Los Andes, said, “To have accomplished these innovation project strengthening workshops in 11 cities, in 6 countries in the region, reveals the interest and the importance of developing this area despite the borders, the distances that separate us, and the pandemic.”
This year’s challenge was how disadvantaged communities can design and participate in lifelong skills-based learning opportunities, to create productive and prosperous livelihoods in the 21st century.
“Latin America is a region with significant challenges and deficiencies, and now with the pandemic, these can become exacerbated. Although this initiative began much earlier, it’s become more important today in the current context,” added the Tec’s executive president.
Each finalist received 5,000 dollars, while the 5 winners obtained another 10,000 dollars and go through another 2-year follow-up phase in which a community of leaders and experts will help them to achieve the maximum potential for their solutions.
During the TPrize 2020 call, 304 projects were received from 37 countries.