What is one of the best ways to come up with solutions to problems faced by the next generation?
Ask the students themselves.
The Youth Hack was run in Bega on Tuesday, December 3 attended by about 150 Year 10 students from the Bega Valley who brainstormed solutions to problems affecting their community.
It was the first time such an event has been held in the area on this scale.
Hosted by the Bega Valley Innovation Hub, participating students came from Bega High School, Eden Marine High and Lumen Christi Catholic College.
They were split up to focus on three topics: how to improve transportation for youth; how to create opportunities for cross-school events; and how to improve awareness of jobs, events and services for young people.
Zachary Sequoia from the design-focused consulting firm Launch Factory said the hack had an impact on the students because they were solving genuine problems that affected them.
He said they focused on divergent then convergent thinking; "getting wide then focusing on something more realistic".
After the brainstorming sessions students pitched their ideas to their peers and judges.
For instance, in the final pitch on how to improve awareness of jobs, events and services, a group of Bega High students thought it was difficult for local youth to find events that suited them in the region so proposed an app.
This app would show events such as music, sport, fashion, food and more.
After the pitches the judges had to decide on the most promising proposal for each of the three topics.
Youth Hack winners
The winner was the group that came up with the idea of electric bikes available via solar powered E-Bike stations in and around the Bega Valley's small towns with a pay per kilometre model and refundable deposit.
Another highly commended entry was E-POOL - a suite of electric cars in towns around the valley providing an app-driven car-pooling service with employment available as drivers for the unemployed and retirees.
Improving awareness of vacant jobs, events and services
The winning idea was a podcast by and for local youth played at school rollcall.
Schools would take turns across the year to produce and record the podcasts and local organisations can send in items and events to be included.
Two teams in different rooms also suggested youth-led employment fairs with music, entertainment and food.
Creating cross-school events
The winning team came up with the idea of a virtual classroom set up in all local high schools where students could connect with students in real time from other schools.
They could play music, talk and discuss issues, share stories and collaborate.
A "Kids Shed" or central meeting place for students was also recommended by a number of groups.