An app with a bio consciousness designed by Sydney Catholic Schools students has won a national competition designed to bolster girls’ interest in science and technology.

Created by girls at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School North Sydney, the Bio Be Aware app lets users look up if a plant or animal is endangered, rare, or harmful, and provides info on how to help it.

Watch the Bio Be Aware full pitch:

“You can take a photo, add your location and find who to contact for assistance,” the students wrote in their submission to the 2020 Tech Girls Movement competition.

Year 6 students from St Mary's Primary School North Sydney

Farmer Connect team (L-R): Charlotte Schroder, Maeve Oczapowska, Lara Mandalidis, Fede Thorsell and Ava Mcpeake.

“An additional feature is the community feed page, where the relevant rescue organisation updates the outcome of your original alert along with the ability to ask questions and have a conversation with people interested in biodiversity and saving our world.

“Bio Be Aware will create awareness and education about biodiversity within our community.”

The Bio Be Aware app was one of six projects entered by the school in this year’s Tech Girls Movement competition – four won awards. Bio Be Aware was named NSW Primary School winner.

School’s awards and projects
  • NSW Primary School Winner – Bio Be Aware
  • NSW Primary School Highly Commended – Farmer Connect
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Award and People’s Choice – Good Health & Wellbeing – Medic 4 Me
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Award – Sustainable Cities & Communities – Plant Oasis
About the Tech Girls Movement
Year 5 Students St Mary's Catholic Primary School, North Sydney

Bio Be Aware team (L-R): Isabelle Armstrong, Isla Mather, Alyssa Tse, Kate Connelly, Elise Pham and Addison Salimi with their team mentor Lisa Sisson (director/founder at Unearth Technologies) and Andrew Bayley from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, who was a key interview in their research.

The Tech Girls Movement was founded on 8 March 2014 (International Women’s Day) to get girls interested and engaged in the Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program. Fifteen girls joined the ‘movement’ initially.

At the time research showed that by the age of six years, girls tended to opt -out of the STEM program, which formed part of the impetus for implementing the Tech Girls Movement.

Today, more than 10,000 students take part in the program. A foundation was established in 2016 to provide a governance structure for the program.

What St Mary’s students did

The school entered six teams (26 girls) from Years 5 and 6 into the 2020 Tech Girls Movement competition, covering topics including biodiversity, food and sustainability, wellbeing, pollution, medical and health. It is the school’s third year of entering the competition.

“The girls had been working over 16 weeks during their lunchtimes on their projects, with myself and business mentors who are all successful women working in the tech industry,” the school’s STEM teacher, Timothy Butt, said.

“The whole purpose of the Tech Girls Movement is to provide an opportunity for the teams to solve a problem involving the design process.”

“Well done to you, Timothy Butt, and to all of your inspiring tech girls!” – Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen

The program also provides opportunities for the students to engage with high-quality tertiary and industry partners. This year this included Georgie Drury (Springday), Shamistha Fernando (Accenture), Jacqueline Lee (Accenture), Grace Linsdell (LinkedIn), Lisa Sisson (Unearth Technologies) and Christina Zammit (Allianz).

Year 5 Students St Mary's Catholic Primary School, North Sydney

Plant Oasis team (L-R): Catherine Eldabbagh, Charley Bourke, Allegra Shipley, Claudia Tribe Aviles, Alanah Wilson and Ana Tottenham.

“The six business mentors have been outstanding, working outside of school hours and on weekends liaising with parent helpers,” Mr Butt said.

Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen, founder of the Tech Girls Movement Foundation and CEO of Adroit Research, praised the school’s teams.

“Truly an incredible effort for 2020!” Dr Beekhuyzen said. “Well done to you, Timothy Butt, and to all of your inspiring tech girls!”

Mr Butt commended the students’ parents for all their hard work, as well.

“Of course, without our parent helpers, this achievement would have been challenging,” Mr Butt said. “Their enthusiasm and commitment to the teams was evident. This parent-school partnership is valued and essential.”


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