Realms in Action

Hackathon 2020

If teenagers were in charge, what would be their ideal school experience?

Think about what’s possible – not just what’s available today.

The question was posed to the Year 7 to Year 9 classes at St Paul’s School as part of the annual student hackathon that aims to bring out the best in young creative minds.

Over two days, the students formed 45 small groups to work on ideas that could be included in the school’s strategic plan for 2028 and beyond.  A series of guest speakers provided a spark for the students to broaden their minds as they set about designing their ideal future school in which they can best engage and learn.

The students examined a range of possibilities through the lens of sustainability, including the economic, environmental and social change needed to enhance their school experience.

They wanted more “experiences” and less “teaching”. They wanted to better connect socially. And they didn’t want to do that by spending more time on individual screens.

After two days of discussions, presentations and challenges, the students pitched a range of ideas to the school’s leadership group including:

  • New table-top technology: the whole table is a screen and students use it together, collaborating and sharing ideas as they learn at an area where they are also able to stand up, rather than sit down
  • Classes with 360 Virtual Reality Biomes and Haptic suits enabling students to use all their senses and actually experience being in a jungle exploring plant life, in a WW2 bunker or exploring the surface of the moon
  • Technology improvements to increase opportunities to engage with international students to learn from them and with them, gaining greater global perspectives.
  • Creating ‘moss walls’ throughout the school to clean and purify the air

These ideas and more will be further refined by the 2021 Student Vision Committee, which will present a business case to the school to develop their suggestions.

Importantly, students decided they didn’t want more time on screens on their own. They wanted more time together to be social and to get the most out of their learning experience.

The Hackathon is a part of our school focus on “possibility thinking” – to encourage students to think of what is possible rather than what is already known.

These minds of the future can often see possibilities in areas that older minds can’t see. And everyone benefits.