Year 9s Step Up as Stewards of the Future in Year to RISE Conference

Our Year 9 students accepted the challenge to be ‘Stewards of the Future’ in a three-day conference as part of their reinvigorated curriculum, Year to RISE, at Matthew Flinders Anglican College in the first week of Term 3, 2023.

The project-based conference encouraged students to use design thinking to solve real-world problems they care about. 

Students had to choose a project topic and be solution-focused and action-focused, using the following design thinking model to create a prototype in just three days:

Inspire > Investigate > Ideate > Innovate > Impact > Implement 

Launched in January 2023, the Year to RISE curriculum aims to spark curiosity, invite inquiry and spur innovation and engagement in students in Year 9, which is the final year of Middle School at Flinders. 

Year to RISE Project Lead, Mrs Emmie Cossell said, "Our vision through Year to RISE, is to create learning environments that not only maximise student motivation and engagement but also bring a sense of joy to the learning process for students.

"We were thrilled to see how our students embraced this three-day conference and soaked up the ideas from industry leaders and Flinders staff who presented keynotes and workshops on their fields of expertise," Mrs Cossell said.

"Students were encouraged to remain open-minded and to explore the local and global impacts of their ideas and actions - and they certainly took on this challenge with open arms.

"It was inspiring to see how, in just three days, the students were able to create such exciting and creative ideas to solve real-world problems and make the world a better place." 

Students "choose their own adventure" with project-based learning model

To begin the conference, students had to "choose their own adventure" from five topics drawn from The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which focus on economic welfare, environmental quality and social coherence, (UN, 2015).

  • NO PLANET B: As stewards of the future, how do we encourage our local community to live a more sustainable life?  
  • MIND, BODY AND SOUL: As stewards of the future, how can we create a movement to achieve healthy minds and bodies in our local community?
  • CAREER HIGHLIGHTS AND CITY SKYLIGHTS: As stewards of the future, how can we prepare young members of our local community for their future in a 21st century world?
  • STRENGTH IN DIFFERENCE: As stewards of the future, how can we encourage diversity and respect in our local community? 
  • CLEAN AND GREEN FUTURES: As stewards of the future, how can we reduce the impact Flinders has on the environment?

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Day 1 was all about getting inspired and challenging students to open their hearts and minds to world issues, to discover their passions and spark their creativity and curiosity.

Keynotes and workshops were presented by industry leaders including the ever-inspiring master of science Dr Karl Kruszelnicki; Mischa Traynor, Global Vice President (Environment), BHP; and Doug Woodring, the Founder and Managing Director of the Ocean Recovery Alliance. 

Flinders staff and students also gave insights into their areas of expertise, including the Flinders Masterplan, the Flinders Farm and the Flinders Quarterdeck Cafe. 


Day 2’s theme was ‘Creation’ with students required to collaborate with other students who were keen to tackle the same topic from the five options.

Students had to ask themselves and each other: “What problem are we trying to solve, who are we trying to solve it for, and how will we solve it for them?”

Using the design thinking model, students had to innovate to ideate a solution and could choose their presentation style, which could be an elevator pitch, an inspiring presentation or keynote, a song, a podcast, or a skit, for example. 


Day 3 was ‘Presentation’ time, with the students delivering their prototypes through elevator pitches to Year 6 students for feedback.

They then had to consider how the feedback was valuable and use it to refine their ideas before presenting an improved pitch to theYear 5 students. 


And the results were astounding! 

In just three days, students created a range of creative ideas to solve real-world problems and make the world a better place. 

This experience was a valuable learning process for students. It has helped to boost their confidence and competence for when they are tasked with creating their own capstone iLead project and presenting it to a public audience in Term 4.

Ideas include the following: 

- An AI bin which engages with the audience when a piece of rubbish is placed in it. The bin shared info on the perils of pollution in the world and congratulated the person for disposing of rubbish wisely. 

- An app which allows parents to monitor and restrict their kids’ time on social media to combat addiction. 

- A ‘green zone’ fishing app to combat the environmental problem of overfishing and help people avoid fines. The app shows people where green zones are and alerts them if they are in an area where fishing is not permitted. The app also has a link to the government fisheries network and a way to use the app in 'dead zones' where access to the internet is limited in open water.

- There were a number of innovations on how to deal with anxiety and mental health in teenagers, which ranged from education, apps and websites providing strategies on how to deal with this growing issue. 

- One group who focused on supporting people with anxiety ideated a clickable pen that could be used in class. The idea was for it to have changeable features which could be used to 'fidget' in silence as mindful support for students impacted by stressful information. 

- A 'Diverse Week' festival to provide opportunities for different cultures to engage and promote understanding and respect.  

To learn more about the principles and goals of our Year to RISE curriculum at Flinders, visit our launch story here.

And to learn more about the Secondary School journey at Flinders, visit here.

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