CREATIVE Carenne School students impressed the judges in a school of the future challenge run by the NSW Department of Education this week.
Carenne was named the secondary school winner of the inaugural Game Changer Challenge for its idea of a “wellness biome” in a natural environment with learning pods, calming water features, comfortable furniture and the school counsellor and therapy dog nearby.
Almost 100 students from 16 public schools – eight primary and eight secondary – participated in the challenge at the Department of Education headquarters in Parramatta.
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Each team was asked how tomorrow’s school can help create the future.
The secretary of the Department of Education, Mark Scott, said Carenne had identified how to help students with anxiety or depression cope and thrive in a school setting, supported by intuitive technology and professional assistance.
“For students who have depression or anxiety or somehow are concerned in the classroom, we need to create a space where they can safely engage in school and they can learn,” he said.
The Carenne School team said students could not learn if they were anxious or depressed and “so it is vital that our future schools provide safe, calm and relaxing spaces for happy and healthy students to learn and grow”.
Team members said research pointed to the benefit of spending time in nature to reduce anxiety and depression.
Under their plan, smart watch technology would alert a teacher if an anxious student’s heart rate was elevated and the student needed to go to the wellness biome to calm down.
The technology would then track the location and heart rate and send information back to the classroom.
Carenne’s Game Changer Challenge team, aged from 12 to 18, were school captains Will Tatnell and Mitchell Allan, Keith Pracy, Kade Muldoon, Callan Derwent and Connor Drewe.
Mudgee’s Cudgegong Valley Public School was crowned winner of the primary school division with its plans for a sustainable school self-sufficient in power, water and food.
The students who were part of the challenge, accompanied by teachers, were involved in three days of problem solving, design thinking workshops and prototyping.
The challenge culminated in a pitch session where each team was required to perform a five-minute presentation to a panel of industry and department experts.