14 December 2023

Fuel for thought: Mater Dei students display winning ways to educate others on renewable energy

| Jarryd Rowley
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two high school students showcasing their renewable energy project

Mater Dei College year 9 students Bailey Helyar and Will Wendt show part of their Discovery Pod Challenge-winning entry on the television screen and the $5000 in Lego robotics kits their school won in the Transgrid competition. Photo: Supplied.

Mater Dei College students have taken top honours in Transgrid’s Discovery Pod Challenge, which focuses on educating schools about renewable energy.

The challenge tasked students with creating interactive pods that demonstrated their understanding of the benefits of transitioning to renewable energy.

Executive general manager of corporate & stakeholder affairs Maryanne Graham said: “Transgrid is actively engaging local high school students in Australia’s clean-energy transition and path to net zero.

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“Earlier this year we launched a challenge across high schools in the Riverina to research and design a Discovery Pod at the Transgrid Discovery Hub currently being built in the old Elders building in the Wagga CBD.

“Local high school students were invited to develop a concept for a Discovery Pod exploring the key themes of energy, engineering and environment in a fun, interactive and educational way.

“Students were encouraged to think about what they experience at Canberra’s Questacon or a museum in developing their pod with interactive audiovisual technology, games, a challenge, animation, video or presentation of ideas.”

The Mater Dei entry, titled “Energy – The Game”, was submitted by year 9 students Will Wendt, Bailey Helyar and Ronejan Kassem. Their concept proposed a series of mini-games demonstrating information about renewable energy.

In their entry, the students wrote that their proposal created “immersive gaming experiences that not only entertained but also educated children on various aspects of electricity”.

“Through interactive gameplay, users can learn about electrical circuits, renewable energy sources and the importance of energy conservation,” they wrote.

The winning entry will now be brought to life and put on display permanently at the Transgrid Discovery Hub. A local gaming developer will be engaged to work with the students.

The college won eight Lego robotics kits, valued at $5000. The students on the winning team also each received a 10,000mAh power bank (compatible with laptops and phones) and a $50 Visa gift card.

Mater Dei College leader of learning – digital technology and STEM Courtney Freebody said the challenge had ignited the students’ creativity, prompting them to explore innovative tools for educating the wider community about energy, engineering and the environment.

“Diverse student teams across year groups developed solutions that hold promise for further refinement next year,” she said.

“The winning group, captivated by the process of pitching their energy game, are ready to refine their ideas alongside industry experts.”

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Ms Graham said she looked forward to seeing the concept become a reality and take its place in the Transgrid Discovery Hub.

“These students are taking a leading role in educating their peers about Australia’s transition to a clean-energy future and I congratulate them for their creativity and bold thinking in developing their concept for an interactive Discovery Pod,” she said.

“The new centre will include a discovery space for community members and school students to explore power generation, electricity transmission, the transition to renewables, and careers in the energy sector through visual and interactive experiences.

“Transgrid is also consulting local schools, teachers and educational professionals to design a program of activity at the centre to support in-class learning for secondary students.”

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