The AHA! Hackathon for Youth: The Future of Education is Now.

The world is changing rapidly and learning needs to change too. To do this appropriately, young people now need to become part of the wider discourse around what they want as learners. 

Over a weekend in September, a youth cohort aged 13-19 participated in ‘A Hackathon for Youth’ led by AHA! Accelerating Education to express how they look at learning and education in 2021 and beyond, what they found relevant, what they wanted to keep, develop, and discard.

Youth participants worked through five modules and five challenges based on five AHA! competencies; cognitive, social-emotional, physical-, environmental, and digital. The questions addressed centred around, what does it mean to be human in a global era of technology? and what happens when we educate the heart?

The Hackathon welcomed 5 local teams from The International School of Helsingborg and Thoren Innovation School in Helsingborg, Sweden and 6 global teams from across Europe and Asia including Coconut Thinking in Thailand, Vega Schools in India, Shaftesbury School in the UK, Hammerbrooklyn Youth Innovation Center in Germany, The Roermond Agora School in the Netherlands and a private team from United Arab Emirates.

The Hackathon itself was of course a competition, but the learners inspired each and cheered each other on Instagram . The end product from the weekend was a film where they described their look on learning and education. 

The UAE team won the global prize offered by LearnLife. Thoren Innovation School Team 2 won the local prize offered by Hetch and the IB DP International School of Helsingborg won a local prize offered by the city of Helsingborg combined H22 & Hbg Works Design and Innovation. 

Check out their videos here to learn about their answers:

It was beautiful to see the connectivity of the teams and how they were all looking at the same five challenges from different parts of the world and drew very similar conclusions.

Below is the story of the winning team of the UAE, Aya and Amjad Jzaerli;

“We believe that the current system of education must be reformed due to a sharp decrease in creativity. Based on the background of competencies we learned about in the hackathon process, we have come up with a few ideas on how to make education more suitable for us and the future generation. We think that education must include little to no instructions at all, and depend on exploration. Exploration is a lot more exciting than just sitting down and being lectured and forced to follow only given steps with no choice. Teachers must be role models to children, they should motivate them towards curiosity. Curiosity makes them release their potential to ask and explore further.  We expect teachers to give students more space to express themselves and cope with their negative emotions and become resilient. Educators should not target and judge students, this will decrease the self esteem of the students and they will feel less motivated, thus putting less effort. Students should be allowed to take short breaks whenever they feel like doing so.

AHA! – founded by Yvette Larsson and Nanna Spetz – are driven by the fourth UN sustainable development goal: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” AHA! believe that the starting point in education is to educate the heart, to be able to grow and develop as a human being together with others. Young people should be given opportunities to explore their passions in an entrepreneurial & project-based manner where student agency is in the spotlight. The world is transdisciplinary and not divided into subjects, so should 2021 learning also be.

The Hackathon for Youth was chosen by the Helsingborg city’s Innovation Fund, Visionsfonden, as a new and brave innovation, with a possibility to be very impactful. Please connect with Yvette and Nanna from AHA! Accelerating Education and AHA! Well-Being at to keep in touch with them about future Hackathon events and to register youth from your own community.

Youth voice is the most critical part of the narrative surrounding educational change and we must provide them with a platform from which to voice their wants and needs.

The future of learning is now!

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