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Cathy Quigan - Sacred Heart Girls College

Sacred Heart Girls’ College, New Plymouth attended the 123 Tech challenge in 2018 and again this year. 123 Tech is a fantastic competition that, embodies everything the new strands of the Digital Technologies Curriculum is trying to achieve. It asks students to look around their community and take action to solve the problems they see. It provides the authentic context necessary to develop a wide range of skills, both technical but more importantly the so-called “soft” skills of communication and collaboration.

This year SHGC brought four teams to the Regionals in Palmerston North. The projects included:

  • a Cat Tracker for the school cat who kept getting locked into classrooms on long weekends,
  • a House-coloured bin lid programmed to count the bits of rubbish as they go in and assign House Points accordingly (House events have been fiercely competitive this year!)
  • an app to beat the queues and allow students to order food at the school canteen online and
  • Medicache, a safe box for medication to help combat under and overdosing.

All of these projects used the BBC Micro:bit and the Elekfreaks Tinker Kit as well as more than a little ingenuity!

The last two projects qualified for the National event in Wellington; Medicache as the judges Wild Card.

Their idea for the winning project came from a students need to take regular medication and often forgetting. They researched and found that under and overdosing was a big issue, especially amongst the elderly. The box is programmed to open at set times so the patient can only take medication as prescribed. Once opened the timer resets and an alarm sounds if the box is accessed too early.

The girls (Eve, Anya, Nell and Ellesha) wowed the judges with their idea, their research but mostly with their presentation. They took out the Senior Secondary category winning $1500 for the school to spend on digital technologies equipment and a cash prize for the girls!


They thoroughly deserved the accolades. They had an idea, developed it, failed, changed it, tested it, failed again and tested again, never giving up. They lived and breathed the iterative design process over a term solving their issue.

It was very cool to see so many girls involved in 123 Tech this year. This competition, and others like it, provide a fabulous platform to inspire girls to pursue careers in technology. The more schools that get involved, the more we can begin to empower our girls to make a change in our world.


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