During the weekend of February 26-28, the national technology challenge “Bibliotech Challenge” for children aged 8-18 years took place in the Olympic Park, Tirana. This competition was designed to encourage them to develop technological and innovative ideas on issues and challenges affecting them, their peers, their community, and to prepare them for 21st century skills by promoting awareness of their digital security. The competition was organized by the Municipality of Tirana and UNICEF Albania in their partnership within the initiative of the “Bibliotech” program.
On the first day of the competition, participation was high and the children registered with great enthusiasm and curiosity. Previously, the children had applied with individual ideas as well as in groups, so, on the first afternoon of the competition, they sketched their initial ideas, finally being divided into 21 groups and presenting new ideas for Tirana. The atmosphere was warm and the children felt comfortable to socialize with each other, share opinions and their achievements.
Following on the second day, the children were introduced to the selected mentors, who assisted in the development of their ideas, by sharing with them their professional experiences as mentors. Each mentor randomly picked 2 groups to mentor and the children had the opportunity to elaborate their ideas in detail to build prototypes.
The third day started with energetic games to create an atmosphere of inspiration and fun, where the children were freed from their emotions for the preparation of the final presentation of their ideas’s prototypes. The children continued to work in groups with mentors nearby and many of them had already brought the final prototypes such as robots, remote controlled cars, etc.
The grand finale started on the afternoon, with 21 final presentations of the participating groups. Jury composed of Mr. Ermir Puka, General Director of Information Technology, Innovation and Data in the Municipality of Tirana; Ms. Blerina Guga, Acting Executive Director of Junior Achievement in Albania; Ms. Edina Kozma, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Albania, followed the presentations carefully and praised them based on some key criteria such as innovation, the problem that these ideas solve, the created value, the presentation performed and teamwork.
The arrival of the Mayor of Tirana Mr. Erion Veliaj and the UNICEF Representative in Albania Mr. Roberto De Bernardi marked a very important moment for the competition.
UNICEF Ambassador to Albania, Mr. Roberto De Bernardi, gave a motivating speech for the young people and presented the first prize for the 12-14 age group, where the winning group was “AQ” with the idea “Bus Track” to improve coordination and to add digital capital services to the capital.
Mr. Erion Veliaj delivered his greeting speech congratulating the young people and encouraging them for their innovative and valuable ideas impacting our city and community. He handed over the awards respectively to the group “Scratch Pros”, who won first place for the age group 8-11 years, with a game that helps keeping the environment clean, and the group “Spac” who won first place for the age group 15-18 years old with their anti-Covid awareness robot.
Bibliotech Challenge” was conceptualized as a refreshing challenge for a promising future built by the young people. For several years now, the organization of events in order to promote innovative ideas, various business ideas or startups has become a reality not only for Tirana but also for the whole of Albania. The lead organizer and facilitator, Director of Innovation in the Municipality of Tirana, Faola Hodaj, stated that “Coming from several years of experience in organizing such international formats for young people and young entrepreneurs, I can say that the Bibliotech Challenge was undoubtedly special in many dimensions. Designed with a focus on children and online safety, this competition built a pilot infrastructure to develop a new approach in the field of innovation and technology, where children can not only dream about how to improve their city but also be initiators for alternative and innovative solution.’