High school teens take on the challenge of designing their futures

Speeches Shim

Friday, June 10, 2022
Rrezon (2nd from right) and his team proudly display their SmartFarm
Kosovo Education Center for USAID

In the basement of Gjon Buzuku high school in Prizren, 17 year-old Rrezon Krasniqi and his friends in the school’s technician club gather every day after school. It’s a classic high school scene: students doing school work, eating pizza, listening to music, studying for exams, and following sports matches on TV.  These students, though, are also shooting the breeze about their favorite topic: technology. 

In early 2022, Rrezon and several other technician club members were encouraged to put their mutual interest in technology to the test.  USAID’s After School Support for Teens Activity held a Design Challenge Competition that solicited high schools from across the country to design innovative technologies to solve everyday problems.  Twenty-one schools and 198 students participated. The Gjon Buzuku technician’s club, also supported by USAID, submitted two winning products: a Smart Farm for plant lovers who forget to water their houseplants and a Sound Measuring Device to help classrooms and libraries control noise levels.

Rrezon, the team leader for both projects, had taken several trainings through USAID – 3D design, web development, and coding – which informed the projects’ designs.  For the Smart Farm, the team developed moisture sensors that automatically water houseplants when the soil dries. For their Sound Measuring Device, they designed colored LED indicators to alert students when they’re being too loud.

The teams’ impressive creativity and innovation were not the only factors at play in winning the competition.  Managing the project also demanded exceptional teamwork, communication, flexibility, and decision-making under pressure – all soft skills young people need to be prepared for life and work in the 21st century.

As USAID’s afterschool program draws to a close, Rrezon wants to ensure his high school continues to offer the same opportunities that opened his mind; he is offering the trainings himself to pass on his expertise to younger students.  Knowing how important the technician’s club has been for him, perhaps this new group of youth will carry on the tradition - and maybe even ask him to join them for a slice of pizza after school one day, too.

 

Last updated: June 24, 2022

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