Four students from Yavneh College are well on their way to being technology entrepreneurs after developing a winning app to improve education during a 14-hour hackathon in Finchley.

Jack Perchick, Iftach Sella, Ben Stankler, Izzy Sinclair formed a four-teen team called Better Learning and pitched their personalised education app to a range of judges including directors at Google and high-tech investors, who were left impressed.

In total 50 children of different faiths attended the first-of-its-kind event from schools including Hasmonean, Etz Chaim and St Albans School, with nine teams comprising up to six children of different ages.

The youngest group – of nine years olds – was made up of four boys, three of whom were from Etz Chaim and one from Rimon, in a team called School of the Future. The digital programme they developed was designed to help children who need more teacher attention or who may get very distracted in class.

The whole group featured students from schools including Hasmonean, Etz Chaim and St Albans School,

Elsewhere the hackathon – which was media sponsored by Jewish News – saw other teams develop a Virtual Reality (VR) app, interactive online textbooks and computer games designed to motivate students to learn, all of which left organisers from Acorn Aspirations and Jewish Interactive in awe.

“I was totally inspired by the young people who took part in this amazing Hackathon,” said Chana Kanzen, chief executive of Jewish Interactive.

Interfaith through app design

“The ideas, pitch presentations and prototypes were of such a high standard you would have no idea that nearly everything we saw was learnt from scratch. The teams worked well with their mentors and each other and were left buzzing with excitement for more.”

With more than 25 prizes donated by sponsors at SODA, most teams went away with something, while the winning team were invited to attend a national educational technology awards ceremony, while others won tours of Google’s headquarters.

One of the younger groups of participants presenting their idea

“It was the most incredible tech-education event I attended this year,” said was the most incredible tech/education event I attended this year,” said judge James Rosenthal, global agency director at Google.

“Children from our community and all faiths, some as young as 9 years old, developed and pitched polished, commercially viable Apps in a Dragon’s Den environment, which is remarkable. This is exactly what all our kids need to be focused upon if they’re to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Sergey Brin.”