Catholic Education South Australia
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31 Aug 2023
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‘Brilliance unleashed’ at annual CESA STEM Showcase

Brilliant young minds from Catholic schools across South Australia have come together for the annual CESA STEM MAD Showcase.

The Showcase is the culmination of months of work by 70 students in Years 3 to 12 across Catholic Education SA (CESA) schools to design a product, service or innovation to Make A Difference (MAD) to others or the environment.

The event held during National Science Week on August 17 at the Adelaide Convention Centre brought together student teams from 17 Catholic schools to share their innovative marvels powered by STEM subjects and Design Thinking.

The teams showcased their designs that give innovative solutions to real-world problems using Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technologies, at the event sponsored by Makers Empire, The Andy Thomas Space Foundation, Grok Academy, The University of South Australia and Microsoft.

Students had an opportunity to learn from and meet keynote speaker Dr Jenny Mortimer, Associate Professor of Plant Synthetic Biology at the University of Adelaide who shared her work on growing plants in space.

“The STEM MAD Student Showcase was a day filled with exploration, learning, and creativity as students engaged in captivating STEM activities and shared their groundbreaking innovations,” said Melanie O’Leary, System Coach: Learning, Assessment and Pedagogies (Years 7-10), Catholic Education South Australia.

“It was inspiring to see students displaying their Numeracy and Literacy skills in such a comprehensive manner, demonstrating our commitment to developing literate, numerate and effective communicators in Catholic Education.

“The dedication and brilliance displayed by these young minds serve as a beacon of hope for the future of innovation. A huge thank you to everyone who participated, supported, and made this event successful.”

Through Terms 1 and 2, the student groups used design thinking processes to develop their project and submit a 3 ½ minute video identifying a read-world problem and sharing their creative solution.  

Shortlisted teams then came together at the Showcase to present their projects with working models or digital prototypes. Each team shared their video submission with the judging panel and answered questions regarding their ideas and solutions.

There was an incredible display of creative and entrepreneurial thinking on display.

Secondary first place and people’s choice winners were Year 8 students, Bianca, Prabhjit and Sophie from Kildare College (pictured above) who created a Specialised Air Purifying Ecosystem that successfully reduces levels of carbon dioxide in the air. Designed to solve long term negative effects from the greenhouse gas in highly used areas, the system is the result of a 5-month project that involved comprehensive research of pollutants, plants that remove chemicals, coding, mathematics, science, soldering, engineering, photosynthesis and the design and building of the working prototype.

“Kildare College was selected based on the exceptional quality of its solutions presented,” said Judge Maria Vieira, Lecturer and PhD Researcher at UniSA.

“The students left a striking impression by showcasing an impressive mastery of the STEM subjects, including exceptional coding. Their ideas were articulated with confidence and genuine enthusiasm, providing a comprehensive view of how their solution could make a difference."

Primary first place and people’s choice winners were Year 6 students Lachlan, Alexander, Medhansh, and Maninder from Nazareth Catholic College, who crafted ‘The Sign Speaker’ – a revolutionary device that translates sign language into spoken text. This innovative solution was born from their commitment to ensuring effective communication for all children, including those affected by aphasia and those who are unable to read sign language.

The impact of this experience on the students extended beyond the competition itself, with Lachlan sharing, “Since completing the project, I have learned a lot about disability and people with special needs.”

The team’s participation was part of Nazareth’s cocurricular lunchtime STEAM Club, guided by teachers Mrs Bordignon and Miss Watson who have witnessed the meaningful growth and innovation sparked within the students.

“We are so proud of all the STEAM Club students, and particularly of Lachlan, Alexander, Medhansh, and Maninder’s achievements. These students have truly exemplified the spirit of innovation, compassion, and excellence that STEM education aims to promote,” said Mrs Bordignon.

Congratulations to all the winning South Australian teams:

1st Place – Primary: Nazareth Catholic College, The Sign Speaker
1st Place – Secondary (sponsored by Maker’s Empire): Kildare College, The Specialised Air Purifying Ecosystem

2nd Place – Primary: a tie between St Joseph’s Payneham Team 1, The Yummy Cookie Cup and St Joseph’s Payneham Team 2, The Jelly Fisher
2nd Place – Secondary (sponsored by the Andy Thomas Space Foundation): St Joseph’s School, Clare Secondary Team, Hydromate

3rd Place – Primary (sponsored by Microsoft): St Joesph’s Hindmarsh, Zones of Regulation
3rd Place – Secondary (sponsored by The University of South Australia): Mercedes College, The Holo-watch 

People's Choice Award – Primary: Nazareth Catholic College, The Sign Speaker
People's Choice Award – Secondary (sponsored by Grok Academy): Kildare College, Specialised Air Purifying Ecosystem 

Selected teams will now have their videos submitted to the National Catholic Education STEM MAD Showcase along with many other dioceses across the country, to compete for a national title in November.

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