When Abby Hackett, a student at Westisle Composite High School, signed up to be part of the SHAD program, she never expected her team would make history, sweeping the award categories at the SHAD- John Dobson Entrepreneurship Cup on Oct. 26.
“I didn’t even get up at first,” she said. “Everyone else was still sitting there and then we all jumped up and we ran to the side, we all started hugging. After a while one of the girls on our team was like ‘Guys, we have to go up on stage and get the trophies.’ We were all very surprised.”
SHAD is a registered Canadian charity who’s goal is to empower exceptional high school students to recognize their capabilities and their potential as future leaders.
Each year 900 students from Canada and international regions have the chance to attend a month-long summer program, in-residence, at one of its Canadian host universities. This program focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).
Ms Hackett heard about the program almost by accident. One day at school a group of students were called down for an assembly meeting. She wasn’t one of the students, but her best friend, Anna Herget, was. After Ms Herget came back from the assembly, Ms Hackett asked what the assembly was for, Ms Herget told her about the program, but said she didn’t think she was going to do it. Ms Hackett’s mother then contacted the school’s principal for more information about the program, and she applied.
Ms Hackett was part of an 11 member team at the Carleton University campus in Ottawa.
Each group had to come up with an idea for a prototype that went along with the challenge they were given. Ms Hackett’s team was challenged to pitch an idea to help Canadians reduce their energy footprint.
They had three ideas, narrowed down from a list the team came up with. The team then presented the judges with their ideas, who thought their final product, the Kameleon shingles, should be the idea the team focussed on.
“It’s a shingle and it’s white and it has special paint over it, thermochromic paint, and whenever the temperature reaches above 21 degrees, the top layer goes clear so you see the white base of the shingle and it reflects the sun,” said Ms Hackett. “Whenever it’s below a certain temperature, the reaction happens and it goes black and it attracts the sun.”
Once the decision was made to go with the Kameleon shingles, the team had to go in depth, creating a business plan, marketing plan, financial analysis, and more. To find out certain things, like how much it costs to shingle a house, the group resorted to Google, and calling various businesses across the country to find out what they needed to know.
“We were calling businesses out in Toronto and Alberta, but PEI businesses were a lot friendlier and gave us a lot of the information that we needed ,” she said. “They really helped us out and didn’t act like we were wasting their time, it was nice.”
When it came time for the award ceremony in Toronto, it was announced one group had swept the awards. These were Best Prototype, Best Business Plan, Best Application of Scientific Principles, Best Application of Theme, and SHAD Innovators of the Year.
“They were like ‘The group who won this award won all of them,’ and I was texting my dad and I was like ‘I don’t think we won, but the people that did win won everything,’” said Ms Hackett. “Then they‘re like ‘Carleton!’ so I texted my dad back again.”
The Kameleon group are thinking about keeping the project going, possibly patenting the shingles. They would need to find manufacturers and companies to make the paint for them, and if they can, Kameleon Shingles will be a company thought up and run by teenagers.
Ms Hackett loved being able to take part in the program, and thinks it can offer students on PEI more options when it comes to thinking about their future careers.
“A lot of physicists came in, nuclear plant people came in, and then we had chemists, and professors came in and you get to do these workshops and experience all these different things,” she concluded. “I did computer programming for one, and law for another. It really let me experience different things, and I feel like that’s important to explore.”