Students from Armidale Secondary College are ready to compete against counterparts from across the state in the award-winning Game Changer Challenge.
Having been crowned champions of the New England region virtual heat, the E.A.T team will tackle a sustainability challenge in December in the Game Changer ultimate final.
Almost 400 submissions were received for this year's challenge with 96 teams participating in the virtual heats across NSW.
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said The Game Changer Challenge encourages students to develop critical and reflective thinking skills while collaborating in a team.
"This challenge is all about design thinking and future-focused skills that will push students to become creative problem solvers," Ms Mitchell said.
"Students will learn empathy while understanding how to find solutions for problems that can help change the world in big and small ways."
Now in its fourth year, the challenge provides primary and secondary students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to solving a real-world 'wicked' problem, translating learning from the classroom into a real-life context.
This year, teams of students were asked to tackle the problem of humans having unlimited needs, but the planet having limited capacity to satisfy them.
Teams were able to choose to either devise a product-based solution to answer the question: How might we transform discarded items into something useful, beautiful or upcycled?
Or they could choose to undertake action research, creating social change through implementation-thinking and persuading others by answering the question: How might we rethink the use of single-use plastics in our community?
The team from Armidale Secondary College decided to create social change and developed an environmental education program with resources created by students, for students.
They will refine their ideas further in the next stage in the challenge, held as a virtual event in December.
The Game Changer Challenge has its roots in the design thinking discipline.
Design thinking is a human-centred approach to solving complex problems, with empathy and collaboration at the heart of the process.
The five-step process starts by encouraging problem solvers to walk in the shoes of those experiencing the 'problem' to gain a deeper insight into the challenges and issues they face (empathy).
This knowledge is then used to develop a clear problem statement (define), work on solutions (ideate), turn these solutions into tangible products (prototype) and then see whether the solution will work (test).
Teams submit a video application, outlining their approach to the problem. Those with the best pitch ideas are selected to compete in a one-day intensive virtual workshop where they learn and apply the processes they need to undertake in solving the wicked problem.
They are guided through the process by expert facilitators and a series of videos produced with thought leaders in technology and innovation. Professional development in design thinking is available for teachers.
The winners of the semi-finals will be judged in a virtual grand final event for the title of 2021 Game Changer Challenge Champion in December.
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