Students rise to the Game Changer Challenger

The design-thinking grand final saw 180 public school students solve a real-world wicked problem. Linda Doherty reports.

Image: Aurora College’s Primary School winning team members in the 2022 Game Changer Challenge.

Mother Nature has thrown a suite of natural disasters at Aurora College students, but they channelled these experiences to be crowned the primary school champion of the Game Changer Challenge.

The Year 6 students’ winning proposal was for a ‘Green Wellbeing’ truck with garden beds and a kitchen to bring fresh food, beauty and hope to communities in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.

The concept, a standard shipping container with water tanks and solar power, would provide vegetables and herbs “for taste and aroma”, flowers for beauty, and a message of hope.

The home schools for the students from Aurora College – a virtual selective school for rural and remote students – are Holbrook Public School, Eureka Public School, Bermagui Public School and Clergate Public School.

Aurora College principal Chris Robertson said the students had for most of their schooling endured drought, bushfires, floods, mice plague and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They are socially aware students and a real credit to their communities,” he said.

Student Amelie McPhee, from Eureka Public School, said after successive floods in the northern rivers region this year “my community is mentally and physically exhausted”. Classmate Maxim Savchenko-Ray, of Bermagui Public School, said after the Black Summer bushfires “we needed hope”.

The Game Changer Challenge grand final saw 180 students use design-thinking methodology to work in teams to refine their ideas, mentored by industry partners, before delivering their pitch to a judging panel led by NSW Department of Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson.

The wicked problem to solve was “ensuring healthy lives for all, at all ages”.

“I am blown away by the ideas you have put forward today,” Ms Harrisson told the students and their teachers.

“How amazing to hear the issues that you really care about. You care about young people, old people, the whole community, your peers.”

Ms Harrisson said her takeaway message was for the Department of Education and schools to care more about the issues that young people raised, which included mental health and mental wellness, physical wellbeing and fitness, healthy eating, vaping, and social connection in communities.

Image: An app for first aid kits scored Gymea Technology High School the crown as secondary champion.

Ms Harrisson said the judges chose Gymea Technology High School as the secondary school champion for the practical application of its app for school first aid kits.

The Gymea Year 9 students developed an app with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that links to information on how to use first aid kits for different activities, excursions and locations.

The app stores data, links to navigational icons, and works in locations where there is no mobile phone coverage.

Teacher Nick Dellagiacoma said the students surveyed other students about the importance of teachers being aware of how to use a first aid kit.

“The RFID is the same technology used in tap-and-go credit cards and Opal Cards and it’s a relatively cheap technology,” he said.

Gymea Technology High School Principal Peter Marsh said: “The enthusiasm of both teachers and students formed the perfect recipe for the wonderful success at Game Changer 2022. We are very proud of them.”

Game Changer Challenge 2022 award winners:

Primary champion: Aurora College Team Majam

Secondary champion: Gymea Technology High School, Team Quick Stitch

Design Award Impact and Awareness: Kingscliff Public School

Design Award Teamwork and Research: Krambach Public School

Design Award Innovation and Implementation: Randwick Public School

Lumination Industry Partner Incubation Award: Gymea Technology High School, Heathcote High School, Warners Bay High School, Kanwal Public School, The Ponds High School.

The 2022 Game Changer Challenge is supported by partners: Winc., Rothfield, ABC Education, Education Perfect, Adobe, ASPECT Studios, Canva, EY, Google for Education, HP, Food Ladder, iyarn, Lumination, Microsoft, Mott MacDonald, Ogilvy Health, Palo IT, PwC, TOMRA Cleanaway, The University of NSW.

Visit the Game Changer Challenge website for more information and to watch the pitch session live stream -

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