Schoolgirls play lead role at international conference

Schoolgirls play lead role at international conference

In a world first, Melbourne Girls Grammar School (MGGS) students delivered the major keynote at a major technology conference.

The 2018 APAC Blockchain Conference, held in Melbourne on Tuesday, brought together blockchain innovators, business leaders and regulators to help build blockchain strategy and assess the viability of the technology.

Blockchain is a decentralized database system that enables cryptocurrencies to be exchanged in a quick and secure way – and with major organisations accepting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for payment, it’s on the rise.

Industry experts such as Robert Kahn, known as the father of the internet, spoke about looking beyond the hype at the real impacts and potential of blockchain technologies in Australia.

Millicent Perkins, a Year 12 student and Melbourne Girls Grammar School Captain, opened the segment, welcoming the Chinese delegates in attendance in their native tongue.

“I have the ability to develop something that becomes the standard that everyone uses because what I create really works, not because some big institution tells me it should be that way,” Perkins said at the conference, which runs between 13-15 March.

Ivan Carlisle, Director of STEM at Melbourne Girls Grammar followed, sharing the work being done at the School around emerging technologies and preparing students for the future of work.

Following this, Evangeline Mullins, another Year 12 student, spoke of the Smart Cities Hackathon where Melbourne Girls Grammar girls were awarded third place amongst a field of predominantly professional participants, as well as her personal interest in the intersection of technology and policy.

In her presentation, Evie reflected on “the feedback, encouragement and genuine engagement from attending events such as these stirs us to continue to open our min ds to new possibilities”.

“We are here, in the present, ready to shape our futures. As youthful, inexperienced yet creative students, we offer raw opinions; with a balance of fearlessness, elasticity and scrutiny,” Mullins said.

“While the world talks about being on the periphery/brink of a technological revolution, we are proud to say we have already entered this space, and we are here to stay.”

Finally, Serena Malatesta, a Year 10 student, spoke of her Blockchain project on peer to peer tutoring, and how she is working with Civic Ledger to bring this to fruition.

In her speech, Serena reflected on the opportunity to speak at such a prestigious event, noting that what she really enjoys about blockchain events is that it is “authentic”.

She believes it provides students with a “genuine opportunity to tackle real-world problems”.

“The possibilities that will arise from this course, for me personally are liberating as they will allow me to provide a solution that benefits my community and allows me to develop my entrepreneurial capabilities,” Malatesta said.

Melbourne Girls Grammar principal, Catherine Misson, attended the conference, and expressed her pride in the students for their bold action.

“We really believe it is an historical moment for women to take advantage. Women leading the digital economy would significantly accelerate gender parity,” Misson said.

“I am incredibly proud of our girls for stepping up and demonstrating that they have the insights, creativity, and skills to be these digital pioneers.”

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