The TPrize competition has selected 10 finalist projects for this year that have the potential for positive impact on education in Latin America.
TPrize is an open innovation initiative from Tec de Monterrey and the University of Los Andes which seeks to contribute to and promote solutions to the educational challenges that exist in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The initiative also has the backing of MIT Solve, an area of MIT for social projects, which provided its platform for holding the competition.
This year’s challenge was: How can disadvantaged communities design and take part in opportunities for learning life skills in order to create productive and prosperous ways of living in the 21st century?
“We wanted this program to use collective intelligence, not only to design the challenges, but also to discover and design the solutions.
“What we hoped to create was a garden for startups that provide us with these opportunities to solve educational challenges,” explains Sabrina Seltzer, head of Open Innovation and EdTech Entrepreneurship at the Tec.
THE 10 PROJECTS
Out of 304 projects from 37 countries, 10 were chosen to proceed to the final in December 2020, during Tec de Monterrey’s Educational Innovation Conference.
Each finalist will receive 5,000 dollars. The 5 grand final winners will receive another 10,000 dollars and a two-year mentoring program.
Here are the 10 projects:
1) ECOLAB 4.0 (VENEZUELA) - LOW COST 3D PRINTING FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
This project seeks to teach young people about manufacturing educational tools through low cost 3D printing derived from recycling plastic bottles.
The system also uses augmented reality and aims to teach young people about concepts such as 3D modeling, programming, mechatronics, robotics, and even video game design and augmented reality.
2) FORTE (COLOMBIA) - TRAINING FOR VULNERABLE PEOPLE
This platform seeks to train groups of vulnerable people for free. These may include migrants, women in science, the elderly, veterans, and even those unemployed as a result of the pandemic.
Financing for this training is obtained from investors. Once the people who’ve received training get jobs, they pay taxes.
The government sets aside part of these taxes paid by new workers for investors in Forte so that the cycle can start again.
3) MICROMENTOR (UNITED STATES - MEXICO) FREE MENTORING FOR ENTREPRENEURS
This is a community of mentors and entrepreneurs from around the world who offer free mentoring for new entrepreneurs on a platform which is similar to Facebook that is easy to access and use.
The website where mentoring is offered can be viewed on any device with internet access. You can create an account here and start receiving mentoring for free.
The site already has 69,000 entrepreneurs and 25,000 mentors from 179 countries.
4) SOLARSPELL (COLOMBIA) - INTERNET-FREE DIGITAL LIBRARY
This portable digital library is solar powered and doesn’t require internet access. It generates a wifi access point that people in communities without network access can connect to.
This can store information which can be used for educational purposes that are relevant to the communities where it is installed.
It is also resistant to extreme weather conditions such as humidity, heat, and dust.
5) LAB4U (CHILE - MEXICO) - YOUR SMARTPHONE: A PORTABLE LABORATORY
This is a platform including several applications that use the sensors on smartphones to turn them into pocket laboratories.
The students who use them can take measurements and do experiments in physics, chemistry, and biology, the latter two of which are applications in development.
This project seeks to meet the need for science laboratories in schools that don’t have them, as well as help teachers save time with pre-designed experiments.
6) SKILLAB (THE NETHERLANDS) - APP TO HELP MARGINALIZED WORKERS
This is an app that seeks to help marginalized workers by identifying their skills and suggesting in which direction they could take their careers.
The mobile application captures employees’ skills and uses Artificial Intelligence to create profiles with these skills, giving suggestions for jobs they might be interested in.
These profiles can be used by social workers and career counselors to give mentoring on choosing a job more efficiently.
7) SER MAESTRO (PERU) - SUPPORT FOR RURAL TEACHERS
This is a platform on which teachers can volunteer to mentor teachers in rural areas who are interested in innovating in their classes.
The platform includes a methodology called INNO, which seeks to help create high-impact projects simply and quickly.
8) AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY ACADEMY (CHILE) - TRAINING FOR RURAL STUDENTS
This initiative seeks to provide tools and skills to young students in rural sectors, especially women, to develop projects that seek to solve local agricultural problems.
It does so through an educational program taught by experts that combines theory and practice in subjects including biotechnology, molecular biology, and genetic engineering.
9) CON HÉCTOR (COLOMBIA) - VIRTUAL MENTORING FOR WORK PLACEMENT
This is a virtual assistant for young people that tells them about job and training opportunities for their specific skills and characteristics to help them enter the job market.
It also offers mentoring on work placement combining young people’s own skills with scientific information on the job market.
As young people enter their details, the app will know their needs and characteristics in order to personalize their reports.
10) ESCUELA KIT KIT (COLOMBIA) - APP FOR EDUCATING CHILDREN
This is an autonomous learning application for helping boys and girls to improve their basic reading, mathematics, and digital skills.
It does so through a mobile application for electronic tablets that is mainly focused on children with limited access to education.
The application includes 200 books for children, as well as resources for developing skills in reading, writing, arithmetic, and even art and music.
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