TEENAGER Lara Jukes admits it would be “crazy” if she landed her idea for an app on the Appstore.
But lately she’s been learning that anything’s possible as Maitland High gears up for Tech Girl Superhero – a national competition that seeks to tap the creative potential of Australian schoolgirls by unearthing the next big app.
And creative they have been, with Maitland throwing up ideas that even the University of Newcastle concedes would give graduates a run for their money.
Among them is Lara’s idea to build an app to organise all of Maitland’s community events in one place.
“A lot of things happen in Maitland and you only really find out about them once they’ve been and gone,” the 14-year-old said.
“If we could put all of those events in one place, it would be easy to find out what’s going around you.
“Our generation are really tech-savvy, they don’t always read the newspapers, so something like that could help.”
Another student, Claire Hildebrand, has an idea for a gardening app that responds to geography.
Brandishing the slogan “the more you know, the more you grow”, Claire said the app educates gardeners about appropriate plants specific to your location.
“My dad was out gardening and it just came to me,” she said.
“I was wondering what if there was something that could tell you all you needed to know about what to do in the garden.
“I thought ‘I wish they had an app for that’ – and here we are.”
Claire is on a team with three others and remains undaunted by the task ahead of preparing for the competition. But thanks to the university, the students were given a crash course in building and creating apps last week, joining the IT and computing department.
Lecturer Dr Karen Blackmore praised the students for throwing up new and creative ideas.
“It’s so refreshing to be in a workshop with a room full of girls,” she said. “So often it’s just me and 50 other males in the room … and this week we’ve seen new ideas, new ways of thinking and problem-solving.”
According to Twitter, women account for just 30 per cent of the workforce in IT and computing industries.
Maitland High IT teacher Robert Eaton thanked the university for preparing the girls for the competition and said the support had been “invaluable”.
He hoped it inspired the students to think about the computing industry as a potential career.
“Effectively what they are doing this week is creating an app to solve a community problem,” Mr Eaton said. “You can see how valuable that will be in the future.”
The 12-week Tech Girl Superhero competition begins on April 11.