Day One Winners Just Getting Started
When Lambert High School team reigned supreme at the Day One Challenge summit in May, little did they realize their work had just begun. The team took home the top prize for the statewide high school innovation competition with CALM (Cholera Artificial Learning Model), a system to predict where cholera outbreaks would occur and help heath care professionals stop them before they spread.
Lambert’s team is part of an organization at the school that competes in the iGEM Jamboree (International Genetically Engineered Machine competition) organized by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Day One Challenge provided an opportunity for them to receive early feedback on their project, which they plan on turning into a functioning prototype.
“Through Day One, CALM has been in an ongoing loop of feedback and improvement. What started as just idea is now a viable project.”
As the winners of the Day One Challenge, Lambert’s team was invited back for a two-day work session in July, through which they met with various experts from the Tech Square ATL community to help develop and improve their project.
“For high school students, this feedback and mentoring would normally require months of communications. Day One Challenge lent legitimacy to our project which we wouldn’t have had otherwise and brought together specific experts to aid in the variety of challenges our project presents,” team leader Rohil Badkundri explained, “CALM was always intended to be a social enterprise and as our involvement with Day One has increased, we’ve realized that our work could truly be of use to people.”
“As 16 and 17-year olds, we never expected anyone to believe in us.”
These experts sat with the team and helped refine and even shape the direction the project.
“I came in thinking we were going to get advice on how to make the project we had better, not on how to change the project. It definitely opened my eyes to some possibilities I hadn't considered before,” team member Victor Green said about the experience.
Tanishk Sinha said his biggest take away was that “for this to actually work, to actually actually work, we would have to create a dialogue with the Yemeni people and the health organizations that could push forward CALM to a large scale.”
The team needed to focus on the people, not just the product.
“Money doesn’t win you success, people do.”
Beyond simply improving upon CALM, the Day One work sessions helped shape how the students viewed the way of creating such projects - turning an idea into reality takes an entire village, not just a handful of people.
Badkundri said, “Money doesn’t win you success, people do. Our success as a species is driven by talented and curious people. Building a network of advisors and collaborators is invaluable. We are inspired by how experts have taken our ideas seriously. As 16 and 17-year olds, we never expected anyone to believe in us.”
That belief has made all the difference to their project.
“What started as just as an idea, now has the means and potential to truly change lives.”
After the work sessions, the team wrote a short letter of thanks to organizers for putting the workshop together, which expressed their gratitude:
We are astounded by how willing all of the experts were to help us, but perhaps even more by how committed you were to taking our project to the next level. What started as just as an idea, now has the means and potential to truly change lives. It means the world that you believe in us, a bunch of high school kids with nothing but naive ambition.