Game Changer Challenge winners are grinners

Clever ideas that could become reality won the hearts and minds of the Game Changer Challenge judges.

Image: "I don’t think I have ever had a more amazing school experience" - Yagoona Public School won the junior People's Choice award.

The Daily Specials from Bossley Park High School and team Phoenix from Maroubra Junction Public School have been crowned 2020 Game Changer Challenge senior and junior champions.

Young Designers from Young High School and the Yagoona Einsteins from Yagoona Public School secured this year’s inaugural popular vote – or People’s Choice award.

The Game Changer Challenge is the NSW Department of Education’s annual design-thinking competition, which this year was delivered entirely virtually in response to the COVID-19 restrictions.

The teams were amongst 14 grand finalists vying for the coveted title of Game Changer Challenge 2020 Champions, which was announced this morning in an online live stream event.

A total of 84 teams participated in seven virtual semifinals held throughout October and November, using the design-thinking process to develop ideas to solve the real-word problem: “How might we use technology to bring everyone in our community closer together?”

The winners were selected by a judging panel comprised of education and industry experts: Mark Scott, Secretary, Murat Dizdar, Deputy Secretary and Cathy Brennan, A/Deputy Secretary at the NSW Department of Education; Murray Hurps, Director of Entrepreneurship at UTS, and Sarah Johnson, Professor of Engineering at the University of Newcastle.

Junior champions

Maroubra Junction Public School’s five-member team, Phoenix, took out the prize for their idea for ‘The Social Web – an interactive orientation for Year 7’. The Social Web is a virtual school that allows students moving into high school to use an interactive program meet their peers, teachers and stroll the hallways of their future school in a supportive, engaging and interesting way. As students interact with others they earn a ‘virtual high five’ creating a bond between students and a positive mindset for high school.

The judging panel said Phoenix’s idea was realistic as it leveraged existing technology and solved a problem not only for students but also for parents. The judges considered it a global real-world program that could also be used for university orientation.

“When we first saw the Game Changer Challenge entry form, it looked like something that would appeal to our creative-minded learners and we dived right in. Not in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would be taking out the competition,” Year 6 teacher Bradley Wiblen said.

“The students got so much out of the experience with the support of resident experts (Brian Dargan and Summer Howarth), and the continued support of the Game Changer Challenge team was fantastic for teacher development. I’d encourage all teachers to go into the Game Changer Challenge next year. It is a great experience for all involved.”

Senior champions

Bossley Park High School’s team of three Year 8 and two Year 10 students – the Daily Specials – worked on the idea of a ‘Community Garden and Interactive Screen’. The interactive screen and community garden would help eradicate segregation by allowing people from non-English speaking backgrounds, refugees, the Aboriginal community and others in the Fairfield community feel connected, create new friendships and share their culture through food. Community members could create and share recipes from different cultures using the interactive screen located in the community garden, with different language options available.

The judges said the Daily Specials team’s idea was very viable and a smart solution that used an actual physical space as a tool to connect.

The ability for the whole community to participate and using food to bring people together were also considerations that led to the team being declared senior champions.

Junior winners of the People’s Choice award

The Yagoona Einsteins from Yagoona Public School received the most votes in the junior category of the inaugural Game Changer Challenge People’s Choice award.

The Yagoona Einsteins came up with the idea of ‘MediMate: The rehabilitative and entertaining robot friend’. Medimate aimed to help sick kids feel less lonely in hospital and assist them through the recovery process by providing them with companionship and helping with their overall wellbeing.

One of the winning students said, “I don’t think I have ever had a more amazing school experience than the Game Changer Challenge! It was a blast!”

Teacher, Ms Al Muti, said, “The creativity and positive energy demonstrated by our students was truly inspiring for us as teachers to observe. Our students are already applying their knowledge of the design-thinking process in various learning scenarios. It is such a fantastic way for them to end their primary school journey.”

Yagoona Public School principal Meaghan Wilson said the Game Changer Challenge had brought their community together. “Even during a difficult year, the support from our community has demonstrated their commitment to our students and their achievements,” she said.

Senior winners of the People’s Choice award

The Young Designers from Young High School received the most votes in the senior category. The Young Designers came up with the idea of a ‘ShareSkill app’ which would assist members of the community to learn and grow new skills together, helping solve the program of isolation.

The app aimed to connect the general community, youth and elderly together to share skills and learn from each other by uploading videos that show off skills, helping to build meaningful relationships with people with shared and common interests.

NSW Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott said this year’s event had shown that despite the challenges of 2020 nothing would stand in the way of learning in NSW public schools.  

“I’m astonished by the creative and innovative solutions that were designed by the students and send my congratulations not only to our grand finalists, but also to those who participated in this year’s challenge,” Mr Scott said. 

This year’s challenge was proudly supported by partners: IBM, KPMG, Microsoft, Telstra, The University of Newcastle, UTS, Forbo, IntraSpace, Lumination and Winc. 

Watch the grand final video announcement and see all the winning ideas on the Game Changer Challenge webpage.

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