Your Voice is Power Competition

Merivale Students Use Coding Skills to Create Award-Winning Music
Posted on 05/19/2022
Three Merivale High School students were recognized in the 2021 Canada Your Voice is Power competition for using their coding skills to create songs about equity and entrepreneurship. Saumya T. earned the grand prize in this national contest, Edwin Z. was a runner up, and Ria P. received an honourable mention.

Grade 10 and 11 students in Computer Science classes took part in the project, completing modules from Your Voice Is Power on the themes of social justice, entrepreneurship, music elementals, and racism. Students analyzed hip-hop songs, examined how to convey a message through music, read case studies about structural racism in daily life, and learned about Black entrepreneurs from a variety of fields.

As a culminating project, students used the platform EarSketch to create songs that conveyed messages of social justice and entrepreneurship. They remixed lyrics, beats and instrumentals from the song “Entrepreneur” by Pharrell Williams and a variety of other songs. They used their coding skills to control the audio clips, tempo, and sound effects. Some students chose to submit their songs to the Your Voice Is Power competition.

Grade 10 student Saumya T. was the grand prize winner for the national contest. She sampled audio clips from several songs, and wrote and performed a verse of her own. Saumya’s song was inspired by the accomplishments of Black entrepreneurs and motivated by a desire to help break down racial barriers, raise awareness, and be a part of the change to achieve racial equity within her community.

"Although this entire experience started as any other school assignment, this competition has inspired me to continue sharing my voice to promote racial equity within our communities and encourage others to become advocates and allies as well,” says Saumya. “Additionally, I have learned a lot about python, APIs and the widespread use of programming in various industries, including music. I am excited to continue exploring my new interest in computer science and use it to create change in all aspects of life!

Saumya’s efforts earned her a $5,000 grant to support her post-secondary education or to start a business. “I plan to use this scholarship to study Medicine and help underprivileged communities while also using computer science, particularly machine learning, within the medical field,” she says.

Two more Merivale students were recognized for their submissions to the contest:

Edwin Z. earned an honourable mention for the musicality of his remix, which he wrote with the goal of raising awareness, motiviation, and bringing people together to support Black communities and Black entrepreneurs.

Ria P. received an honourable mention for her song, which was dedicated to “all the kids who are frustrated, angry, tired, and scared of the world around them. You are not in the fight against racial injustice alone."

The top winners of Your Voice is Power discovered they won through a surprise visit from Susan Ibach, head of Amazon in the Community, Canada. You can listen to their creations on the Amazon Your Voice is Power contest page.

Your Voice is Power is presented by Amazon Future Engineer, YELLOW, TakingITGlobal, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The program challenges students to remix beats while learning the fundamentals of computer science. This was the school’s first year participating in Your Voice Is Power. In the past, they also took virtual field trips to Amazon warehouses, offered by Amazon Future Engineer, to see how computing and robotics are used in their operations.

Congratulations Saumya, Edwin and Ria on your success!
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