A Partnership That Will Shape Our Future
The Sydney Science Park STEM Schools Challenge immersed students in developing a city of the future - from the ground up - harnessing the ideas and imagination of young people to shape their future world. CCGS was honoured to be selected to work alongside schools from across NSW as part of this unique, year long project-based learning experience.
The project, which is run conjunction with the CSIRO and Celestino, kicked-off at a field day on the future city site earlier this year. Over 20 mentors and several hundred students attended, making it the biggest event of the project to date.
Hands-on learning provided the foundation for our students to start thinking about their focus areas of urban agriculture and energy. Using science and technology principles, students explored complex issues such as ‘How could Sydney Science Park maximise the potential for renewable energy generation?’ and ‘How can we create novel spaces that support urban agriculture and the production of local food?’.
An Expert Workshop
To extend on the learning from the field day, Dr Simon Toze, Principal Research Consultant with the CSIRO, visited CCGS students to work through their ideas, share his expertise and provide constructive feedback.
Science teacher, Mrs Michele Hockey said, “This project has provided a rare opportunity for students to collaborate and engage with top industry experts.”
“Our students are applying the skills they have learned from the field day to think outside the box and find solutions to real-world problems,” Mrs Hockey said.
“Most importantly, their experiences have demonstrated how their learning in Science can be applied outside of school. Their eyes have also been opened to new industries and career pathways that they might not have been aware of,” Mrs Hockey added.
Showcasing Their Learning
The involvement in the project was directly connected to in-class learning, with a showcase marking the culmination of their research.
Students worked in groups to develop an idea and create a model of their solution for an area of concern around building a smart city.
The panel of judges, including Mr Duncan Challen from Celestino, were impressed by the presentations which employed innovative techniques and entrepreneurial thinking.
The winning group – RAT Turbine (an acronym for their names Rishi, Adam and Thomas) – developed a method of harnessing existing practices to make electricity through the collection of rainwater.
By utilising already collected rainwater, they developed a method of generating electricity while also retaining the rainwater for alternate uses around the house such as watering and toilet flushing.
They conducted their own experiments, collected data and built a proof of concept working model which used a one metre pipe and computer fan to generate a small amount of electricity from water.
“I am so proud of our Year 9 students. They have fully embraced this STEM challenge and worked so hard to produce outstanding presentations. Every person that I spoke to at the Showcase evening expressed their amazement at the level of research and understanding displayed in the projects,” Mrs Hockey said.
Grand Final Challenge Day
The final component of the yearlong project - the Grand Final Challenge Day - tasked students to work together with different schools to develop a solution to the question: How might we incorporate innovate solutions into the Sydney Science Park so that we best meet the needs of our persona?
The personas or characters included an international worker, a First Nations family and a 13-year old student among other demographics. Through undertaking an ‘empathink tank’ an understanding of how their persona might feel about their problem formed the foundation of their thinking. Skills in brainstorming – encouraging wild ideas, deferring judgement and being visual – helped to build on their solution.
At the end of their pitch, students from CCGS were part of teams that placed second and third as nominated by a panel of expert judges, a wonderful conclusion to their journey immersed in the world of sustainable futures.