Impressions from Coolest Projects South Africa 2023

The day after the successful meetup with our Global Clubs Partner organisations based in Africa, our team and some of our partners enjoyed participating in the Coolest Projects South Africa 2023 event to meet young tech creators and help out as project judges. Here are some of our impressions.

Our team and partners at Coolest Projects South Africa 2023.

A day of Coolest Projects

This is the fourth year of a partner-run, regional version of Coolest Projects — our world-leading showcase for young tech creators — taking place in South Africa, led by David Campey. David is Director of Coder LevelUp, one of our Global Clubs Partners growing and supporting a network of CoderDojos and Code Clubs in the country, and involved in the CoderDojo movement for a whole decade.

A waterbottle with a Coolest Projects South Africa sticker.

There was a buzz of anticipation and excitement at the Cape Town Science Centre as young coders from age 5 to 18 and various backgrounds gathered on this sunny Saturday morning to showcase their coding creations and inventions at Coolest Projects South Africa. From fun games and animations on Scratch, to cool websites created with HTML and CSS, to fantastic Python-based hardware solutions to real-world challenges — every young creator brought along a project they’d created to proudly showcase and celebrate.

Luhle’s language-inspired coding project

While chatting with the creators and discovering what had motivated their projects, we met up with 11-year-old Luhle, who was delighted to take us through the ‘Moon conversation’ animation she had coded in Scratch.

A young tech creator with her Scratch project at Coolest Projects South Africa 2023.
11-year-old Luhle proudly showcases her ‘Moon conversation’ Scratch animation at the Coolest Projects South Africa 2023 event.

The animation involved a Spanish conversation between two people who journeyed to the moon and back. Luhle had created her animation because of her love for languages and in response to a challenge posed to her class by her teacher: to learn 5 languages. While her mother tongue is isiXhosa, she is confident in English, is learning Afrikaans, has started teaching herself Spanish, and would love to learn Korean.

Kayden’s innovative hardware creation

We also met with 16-year-old Kayden, who showcased a project he’d made to address a real-world challenge. He told us he had always struggled to concentrate in class — a challenge that many young people face — and he wanted to build an alternative solution to the established medications. Using vibration sensors and two microcontrollers, he created a digital device to prompt users when they are no longer paying attention in class. With his friend Carl, he successfully tested the device on a meaningful sample of Grade 1–3 learners (ages 7–9).

A young tech creator with his hardware project at Coolest Projects South Africa 2023.
16-year-old Kayden listens intently as one of the Coolest Projects judges, Akwabi Paul from Kenya, commends his invention and advises him on next steps. Listening in are two other judges, Solomon from The Gambia and Sylvester from Malawi.

Kayden is now developing this low-cost innovative solution to include a heart rate monitor to help to detect when a user loses focus, and he wants this to be a solution that’s widely accessible and affordable for all South African children. One of the judges, our partner Akwabi Paul from Tech Kidz Africa in Kenya, was greatly impressed and motivated by Kayden’s work, and took time to advise Kayden on the next steps to turn his invention into a commercial product.

The coding club at CBC St Johns Parklands

During the event we also met members of Mrs Hill’s coding club and learnt about Mrs Hill’s experience of nurturing a love and interest for coding and robotics at CBC St Johns Parklands in Cape Town.

Since 2020, Mrs Hills has been providing coding lessons to all school classes — learners aged 6 to 12 years — as well as an after-school coding and robotics club. She approaches her lessons by introducing and demonstrating coding skills and then presenting her learners with a problem to solve collaboratively. In her words, ‘Learners find more interest in learning practically.’

That’s why Coolest Projects is the perfect fit for her and her young people. 4 of her club members took part in Coolest Projects South Africa 2022. This year, she was proud to enter 11 participants, 3 of whom were chosen as judges’ favourites.

Here’s to the young creators and more Coolest Projects events

After the showcasing and judging, the Coolest Projects South Africa event culminated in a hearty celebration of all that the young tech creators had presented. David Campey’s passion for nurturing coding literacy, digital making skills, and innovative thinking among learners from different walks of life made the whole day a truly enjoyable, inclusive event for the young creators.

Coolest Projects logo.

It was inspiring, no doubt, for our other African partners who participated as judges and are now keen to host Coolest Projects events back in their home countries.  

Get involved in Coolest Projects

If you and your young people based anywhere on the globe feel inspired to showcase digital tech creations, you can get involved in our Coolest Projects 2024 online showcase! It’s free and open to any young tech creator up to age 18.

Sign up to the Coolest Projects newsletter to be the first to hear all updates, for example when showcase registration opens on 14 February.

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