Acorn Aspirations partners with NASA and Microsoft to host the 2018 NASA International Space Apps Challenge

The winning groups created innovative AI-led products to tackle wildfires and help people find shelter on Mars

31 October, 2018: Acorn Aspirations, the award-winning social impact enterprise, partnered with NASA and Microsoft to host the 2018 NASA International Space Apps Challenge in London on 20th – 21st October 2018.

The London event was part of an international hackathon which occurred over 48 hours in cities across the globe. For the first time ever, teens were invited to join coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, technologists and space enthusiasts to address major challenges for Earth and in space.

The winning teams in London were SpotAFire, an AI powered application that enables users to inform others about wildfires in their area, without wifi; and Otter Space, a wearable device that contains sensors to measure radiation levels, oxygen levels, temperature and blood pressure and can alert you if these levels become unsafe and will send your coordinates to the nearest shelter in Mars. Both teams will be entered into the Global Awards.

Other participating teams in London received NOVA DIY AI Robots, Lunch & Tour of Microsoft’s London offices, one month in residence at the Microsoft for Startups Accelerator, tech mentoring sessions and lunch at Twitter.

Almost 70 teens aged 10 to 18 had a chance to mentored by specialists in AI, Machine Learning, Data Science, Marketing and Design Thinking, and compete against other space tech enthusiasts across the globe.

The theme of this year’s event was Earth and Space, and the six challenge categories were:
• Can You Build a…? contestants were asked to use NASA data to show how to create a variety of things from buildings, to robotic helpers, to tools for citizen science.
• Help Others Discover the Earth. Participants were asked to use NASA data to craft a story, game, video or other solution that helps people discover how Earth works.
• Volcanoes, Icebergs and Asteroids. Contestants in this category were challenged to analyse NASA data to help anticipate, monitor and recover from natural surprises or disasters, such as damaging floods.
• What the World Needs Now Is… Members in this category tackled problems affecting some aspect of life on Earth and on other planets.
• An Icy Glare. This challenge category asked participants to use NASA data to better understand, monitor and interpret Earth’s cryosphere (sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets and frozen ground).
• A Universe of Beauty and Wonder. Contestants in this category were invited to think about space science and exploration.

Elena Sinel, founder of Acorn Aspirations, opened the event by talking about the importance of empowering young people into solving real problems from an early age as it is the young people who will be shaping the world of tomorrow. Other speakers included Raju Sonawane, Head of Distribution Transformation, Innovation and Initiation at M&G Investments, Mandy Sanghera, Human Rights activist, motivational speaker and government advisor and Daniil Sourianos, Winner of NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017.

Elena Sinel said: “The time is right to engage young people into innovation in space technology using Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, and we are delighted to be working with NASA Space Apps Challenge to fulfil this mission. It is really important to ignite young people’s imagination, to further innovative solutions in response to current problems using data provided by NASA.”

Speaker at the event, Mandy Sanghera, the Award-winning Philanthropist, Community Consultant and Global Campaigner, said: “It was an honour to be involved in this event, where I watched young people aim for the stars! It is my goal to formulate strategies which ensure the trusted, safe and inclusive development of AI technologies and equitable access to all young people. It was a joy to watch this inspiring group of young people discuss the benefits of sharing AI tools and resources, datasets, and supporting knowledge and expertise.”

This event took place at the Microsoft Reactor in London, teens submissions can be viewed on Space Apps Challenges site:

London judges include:
Galiya Warrier, Data Solution Architect, Microsoft; Kate Rosenshine, Data and AI, Microsoft; Gen Ashley, Director of Women Who Code, Peter Bloomfield, AI and Machine Learning Policy and Engagement Manager at Digital Catapult, Eleanor Harding, Product Designer, Twitter.
Some of the products developed by the teens in two days include:
• Prepear — An app to help people prepare for natural disasters
• Pyrot — an app to help people to escape wildfires as fast as possible.
• Bouncy Hubble — 2d game that involves using images from the Hubble Space Telescope for entertainment and learning
• Happy-Air- a quiet multi-functional machine that cleans your air, but also clears it of all potential triggers for an allergy attack.
• SpotAFire — an AI-powered application that enables users to incorporate crowdsourcing technology to inform others about wildfires in their area, without requiring wifi.
• Mission to the moon- A base on the moon
• IntuSpace — a mobile app that allows people with an interest in space and rocket launches, to plan trips to see a rocket launch take place in person.
• Volant — Space Free-flyer
• Green Launches — A website that tracks rocket launches and shows their effect on the Ozone layer.
• MartianHealth (MHS) — Martian Health is a wearable device that contains sensors to measure radiation levels, oxygen levels, blood pressure, temperature. It will alert user of dangerous levels and send coordinates of user to nearest shelter/ station in Mars.
• Wild Fire Insights — A crowd sourcing tool to get early warnings of wildfires