Flinders Design Students Win gen[in] Innovation Challenge

Three Innovation Club students in Year 9 at Matthew Flinders Anglican College have won the gen[in] Student Innovation Challenge at the University of Queensland.

Flinders students Amy Morrison, Bethany Slocombe and Tyler Cuttill pitched their design prototype, The Orbital Caddy, to judging panels at the final awards ceremony.

Their prototype was designed during Flinders Innovation Club, a College co-curricular program to inspire and challenge students with a passion for design. 

Up next for the students is the Mayor's Telstra Innovation Awards, in which the Flinders team was chosen as one of the 12 finalist student teams. 

Their prize involved four face-to-face mentoring sessions during May with entrepreneurs and industry experts to develop their idea and prepare their final pitch to be delivered at the awards ceremony on 14 July, when the winner will be announced. 

The Mayor's Telstra Innovation Awards is delivered exclusively to high schools on the Sunshine Coast as a partnership between the Sunshine Coast Council, Telstra and Study Sunshine Coast to help students learn practical skills and knowledge development specific to the start-up, entrepreneur and technological space.

The students' Orbital Caddy is a shelf system which rotates about a central axis, inspired by the ferris wheel amusement ride. It is partly constructed from recycled plastics to tackle environmental waste. 

The design aims to solve a problem for people who have trouble easily and safely accessing shelving, such as older people and those who are in wheelchairs or suffer from back pain. 

More than 100 students from across Queensland were selected to participate in the gen(in) challenge, aimed at helping globally-minded students build practical skills.

Flinders Head of Design and Technologies, Mrs Natalle Sutton said it was rewarding to see students choosing to join the Innovation Club in their spare time to explore real-world design opportunities and solve problems to improve people's lives. 

The Orbital Caddy Prototype 

Flinders student Bethany Slocombe said her team worked through the design thinking process to design the caddy prototype, with the first step of the process focused on ‘empathy’. 

“Last year we noticed some people aren’t able to easily reach up to access stored items in shelves in their homes and workplaces without the risk of injury,” Bethany said. 

“This lack of access inhibits their sense of independence and confidence, and can be dangerous if items up high cannot be accessed safely,” she said. 

Tyler explained, “Our design prototype for The Orbital Caddy allows the elderly, people in wheelchairs, visually impaired people and anyone who generally struggles to access items that are being stored to do so without the risk of injury. Even children will benefit from our idea.”

Amy said, “There are some ideas similar to ours that exist but they’re only available for use in areas like industrial workshops and are not aesthetically pleasing nor environmentally conscious. 

“Ours, however, can be used by anyone anywhere and the prototype is sustainable and innovative to address issues of waste and support our planet’s health.” 

Flinders Innovation Club

Mrs Natalle Sutton said the Flinders Innovation Club has been offered for more than two years as part of the College’s extensive Co-curricular Program in addition to the Design and Technologies in-classroom curriculum.

“We want to encourage our students to explore projects that matter to them and challenge them to work through the design thinking cycle to achieve an outcome,” Natalle said.

“Students are having a lot of fun while also developing valuable study, career and life skills such as collaboration, teamwork, empathy, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.”

Students at Flinders are able to explore Design and Technologies from Years 7 to 12 to learn the skills and confidence to grapple with new and often ‘wicked’ problems that require creative solutions. 

Year 7 students learn through IDEAS (Innovation, Design, Engineering, Art, Science) as a year-long, multidisciplinary course which incorporates the 21st century skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. IDEAS is also designed to challenge students’ mindsets through empathy, optimism and experimentation.

The Year 8 Technologies curriculum is for exploring coding for drones and virtual reality, then in Year 9 the focus is on app development, analysis and design. 

From Years 10 to 12 students can choose from an array of Technologies subjects on offer at Flinders, including Design, Engineering, Digital Solutions, Industrial Technology, Food and Nutrition and Graphics Architecture.

L-R: Flinders Head of Technologies and Design Mrs Natalle Sutton, Secondary teacher and Teacher-in-Charge Innovation Club Mr Peter Horton, Year 9 students Tyler Cuttil and Amy Morrison, and Secondary Teacher Mr Justin Andries (absent, student Bethany Slocombe).

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