This fall Westmont Montessori School hosted its second annual Westmont Prize, where students in grades 7 – 11 collaborated in teams of 4, picked one of four community issues and found workable solutions to be agents of change. This student design competition is an opportunity for teams of youth Gr. 7-11 across Canada to learn, collaborate, work with industry experts and compete for $17 000+ worth of scholarship prizes! The Westmont Prize is designed to have students identify solutions that can answer the question, “what can I do?” about these important issues, and have them ideate solutions that can be implemented.
Given the recent impact of global pandemic on all of us, this year’s design theme was “Building Better and Stronger Communities in a post-Pandemic World”. Teams could pick one of four issues: reconciliation, social media and its impact on modern youth, self-care and social anxiety, and how to build a better and stronger community through activism and volunteering.
The Westmont Prize challenged students to collaborate and find solutions that could be implemented by teens in the region. It was inspiring to see middle and high school students dig deeper to understand issues that are impacting our communities and find real solutions through working together. Students were inspired by the process and to have a platform to share their ideas. The Westmont Prize showed all involved that the answer to “what can I do” when faced with significant social issues can be answered by passionate teens working together.
The Westmont Prize started with students participating in a one-hour presentation by an industry leaders providing online webinars for four days addressing the main topics of the theme. These presentations were then followed by a question-and-answer session for students to explore the issue in greater detail. Expert speakers also provided a resource list for further learning.
You can read more about this year’s speakers HERE.
The Award Gala Ceremony
The culmination of this design event was the Awards Gala Ceremony taking place at the David Lam Auditorium, UVic. At the Gala Event, each team presented a summary video of their design solution to the audience, received feedback from one of four judges and $17 500 of scholarship prizes were presented to the top three teams as determined by our judges.
This year, the audience members had an opportunity to vote for their team as the Audience Choice award! The winning team #13 from St. Margaret’s School was given annual passes to WildPlay.
This year, Westmont Prize also had an honor to partner up with the INSPIRE: STEM for Social Impact Program at UVic. They invited three projects to partner with an INSPIRE Apprentice Garage Team to develop a Minimum Viable Product in collaboration with the community of interest. The winning team #4 from St. Margaret’s School, and their IndigenUS project, along with teams #5 from Shawnigan Lake School and #9 from Maria Montessori Academy, who proposed rainwater catchment systems and a disinformation video game, were invited to pitch their projects to INSPIRE this spring.
The president and founder of the INSPIRE program, Dr. Daniela Damian, was also thrilled to offer internships to members of team #6 from Shawnigan Lake School to work with a start-up emerging from their first cohort of Apprentice Garage teams.
“I LOVED IT! It gave me so much. It was my honor to participate!“
“Thanks so much for the experience, it was fabulous and very well put together. I look forward to coaching more teams next year!”
“Everything flowed so smoothly. The presentations were professional and the whole competition was inspiring in its promotion of collaboration, consensus, hard work and caring about improving community. Impressive!”