The future’s bright with the GDST

More than 500 students gathered online for the ‘Smart Cities’ Junior Techathon

smart cities

Our ‘Smart Cities’ Junior Techathon encouraged students to think creatively about their role in shaping a smarter, greener future.

On a sunny afternoon in June, more than 500 girls gathered online to explore how to make the world a more sustainable place.

Change makers from across the GDST came together to explore the theme of smart transport looking at hyperloops, autonomous cars and biobuses. Ahead of the event, girls engaged with their own local built environment, completing a survey on green initiatives such as counting how many cycle routes or solar panels they saw when out on their daily walk.

Instilling a sense of agency, attendees were challenged to consider how technology can improve their local environment and how they can be actively involved in taking positive action to tackle environmental issues. In partnership with Computer Xplorers, girls worked on coding activities to reduce pollution levels. Using the Micro:bit emulator, they experimented with creating loops, programming images and adding music.

Students were also invited to consider the importance of having diverse teams working on technology projects and the role children can play in urban development. In follow-up projects, girls were invited to debate the ethical implications of autonomous vehicles and decide whether they would feel comfortable being driven by a computer rather than their parents.

Sarra Pardali, Head of Sustainability at the GDST, said: “At the GDST we believe that it is a systems thinking approach that can best equip our girls to lead, create and embrace a sustainable future. During events like out Junior and Senior Techathon, we strive to empower our girls to mesh concepts like technology and sustainability and explore the tools and applications that can help them create a better world for everyone.

“Moving the event online, was in itself an achievement that demonstrated how technology can impact our everyday lives. In this case, it helped us address travel restrictions without compromising on content or the number of girls the event reached – while at the same time reducing the carbon footprint.”

Amy Icke, Online Learning and Innovation Manger at the GDST, said: “To see so many of our Year 5 girls joining the session to design and shape their local environments to make them greener and smarter was a really powerful display of their commitment to environmental issues. The Techathon affords our girls the opportunity to find their voice, to learn new skills and to feel confident to shape the debate on such an important issue.”


Feedback from girls

  • This is amazing. Thank you for creating this moment for all of us GDST members
  • I think Smart Cities are really interesting and good for the planet
  • I am really loving this. I am enjoying my first Techathon
  • I love how we can talk to other schools like this. I am really excited to learn more!
  • We definitely need to be more creative when we are trying to be eco-friendly, because it is extremely important we stop global warming
  • Thank you! It was my first Junior Techathon and I loved it! Smart Cities was a great theme
  • Thank you so much for a really informative afternoon. We have had a really exciting and fun time. From the girls in Year 6 at Northampton High School.