Cobalt Design have won a Mercedes Benz innovation competition with our concept to take coding education out to schools and regions across Australia.
Pitched against five other shortlisted business ideas in an intense one-day ‘Hackathon’ conducted Saturday 5 August, Cobalt’s winning ‘innoVito’ submission was announced by Philip Dalidakis MP, Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade.
Cobalt teamed-up with coding education leaders Code Camp for our submission which converts a Mercedes-Benz Vito van into a mobile code teaching environment in minutes. The winning concept includes a lightweight pull out pod which, folds out in ‘transformer’ style into desks for up to 20 participants. As well, two 3D printers are stored to enable students to see and touch examples of their work. An optional power generator and inflatable shade enables classes and demonstrations to be conducted virtually anywhere.
Design Thinking in Practice
The project was an ideal opportunity for Cobalt to apply our Design Thinking process to Mercedes' brief. This involved the first step of engaging with educational specialists to understand user's real needs. True to the 'hacking' approach encouraged by the competition, the final submission was evolved by a tight but diverse team and a truly exploratory, iterative process.
According to Cobalt Principal Jack Magree, once a need was determined the solution became clearer. “The challenge in Australia is to offer specialist hands-on educational experiences such as coding to children beyond, as well as within, the urban environment” said Magree. With this as a starting point partnering with Code Camp was one of the easier aspects of the process. “Cobalt can design a physical pod and environment, but working together with Code Camp means we knew the concept can be delivered”.
Coding; the new core subject for today's children
The importance of coding as a field of study for children is well established. However Australia currently lags many of other OECD countries who recognised the need earlier and now have significantly higher student participation rates. Code Camp have existing programmes that teach coding to students across Australia. Says Magree; “winning this competition accelerates our vision to enable educational experiences to be taken to rural and remote communities”.
Cobalt and Code Camp now commence the task of developing their pitch into a reality.