For the Young Innovator Awards, we as organisers were faced with a choice; either stick to the tried and trusted formula that has been refined over the past 10 years, or innovate for the new circumstances we find ourselves in. As you’ll see, we opted for the second choice. And so the 2020 version of YiA is a somewhat different beast to previous years:
• We’ve opened website registrations from 6th April – the middle of the school holidays. This was the soonest the team could get ready to go. The reason for the rush? We wanted students at home to have the opportunity to do something worthwhile with the time (and we are guessing parents looking for ways to occupy them might appreciate that too)
• We’ve shortened the competition up. Final submissions are due on 15th May, making the entire competition less than 6 weeks in duration. New Zealand is expected to be in lockdown for most - if not all - of this time so we accepted that challenge and made it a key element of the competition
• We’ve themed it around COVID-19. There’s no better time to innovate than when you have a very real and immediate problem impacting on your life. So students are encouraged to solve problems related to being in lockdown, essentially; how to keep innovating while isolating!
• We’ve encouraged parents and their children to get into YiA directly, without necessarily relying on guidance from teachers in our schools. Given that lockdown learning will mean different things for different schools, this seemed to be the best way to ensure students could still participate in the competition. Some students may find that their schools include YiA in their remote learning programmes beginning from Term 2 – added bonus!
The startling rate of change from the world’s reaction to COVID-19 is unprecedented and will likely change some aspects of life forever. YiA 2020 is a 5-week sprint to reflect the need to adapt and innovate at speed, much like how the virus has spread.
We had big plans for the 10-year YiA milestone but COVID-19 has, unexpectedly, presented a bigger and more meaningful set of problems to solve through innovation, and YiA loves problems! - Jono Jones, Chief Product & Innovation Officer, Bluelab.