Flinders students participate in summit to design a better, healthier, more sustainable city for the future

Students at leading independent school Matthew Flinders Anglican College on the Sunshine Coast are designing a new world-class city from the ground up.

In partnership with Queensland University of Technology and experts in design, the College hosted a ‘Design for Impact Summit’ on October 6 and 7.

The summit involved every Year 5 student at Flinders as part of an exciting design thinking immersion experience, inspired by real-life city planning.

The city planning challenge takes into account that:

  • the Sunshine Coast is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia;
  • for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities; and
  • by 2050 it is estimated that three quarters of the world’s population will live in cities.

Flinders’ Head of Primary Mrs Trudi Edwards said Matthew Flinders Anglican College was committed to being a leading school in design thinking.

“The summit challenged our students to look at the world differently,” Trudi said.

“Working in collaborative teams, our Year 5 students have been asked to be ‘future thinkers’ as they imagine, design and prototype a smart, healthy, happy and sustainable Maroochydore City Centre for 2050,” she said.

“This is all part of our College’s aim to give our students from Prep to Year 6 diverse and rich opportunities to experience first-hand the energy, excitement and possibility of design thinking.”

During the summit, each student team was given a large-scale 3-D cardboard base cut-out of a different precinct as part of the greater city.

Teams were responsible for designing and then constructing their precinct using cardboard, collage material, recycled plastic, paints, glue guns, staples, and other construction materials.

Once the precincts were completed with 3-D design features, the pieces were fitted together to construct a large-scale model of the future city.

During the summit, the student’s work was disrupted when various consultants and community members ‘dropped by’ virtually to offer issues.

Issues were presented by a town planner, architect, politician, olympian, permaculturalist, local Indigenous artist and cultural performer, educational consultant, art gallery curator and Sunshine Coast Council consultant.

The students were challenged to understand and respond to the issues as they designed and constructed their group’s large-scale 3-D city precinct.

A timelapse video captured the design process in action.

Trudi Edwards said, “Design thinking is important because it will help our students to develop social and emotional skills, creative and critical thinking.

“Students will also learn skills of empathy, collaboration and problem solving which are vital for leadership, community service and entrepreneurship when making a genuine difference in the lives of others,” she said.

“The summit was an exciting opportunity for our College to generate a unique learning experience for our students in partnership with top tertiary institution QUT’s Senior Lecturer Dr Natalie Wright as well as with design leaders in our community such as Leighann Ness Wilson, Director of Create Ed.

“The outcomes from the summit will be transferred to our Primary School’s i-Impact units and other subject areas where we explore and develop skills in entrepreneurship, community service and leadership in action.”

Students considered how ‘change’ impacts cities, technology and behaviour; how cities work now; how they can use their imagination to project into the future; and how their precinct would fit with the other precincts to make a 3-D model of a viable future city.

Flinders’ Head of Teaching and Learning, Debbie Planck said the two-day summit was also an opportunity for students to understand the importance of active democratic participation and the power of collective decision-making.

“Flinders is part of the highly lauded international Round Square network of member schools and so, during the summit, students used Round Square’s Ideal of Democracy,” Debbie said.

“Students will be able to learn positive teamwork and negotiation skills built on democratic principles and experience the meaning of respect, equality, mutual cooperation, persuasion and good communication,” she said.

“The summit has given students a unique opportunity to explore their creativity and take ownership of their learning in an exciting and practical way.

“It is astounding to consider the breadth and scope of engaged learning that occurred over just two days.

“In teams, students learned about governmental development processes, the design process in the realm of urban design, and how to be active participants in the design of their future on the Sunshine Coast.

“Our Year 5s were ready for this challenge and it was wonderful to see them thrive in such a dynamic, collaborative and high-energy environment.

“The learnings from the event will help us to fine tune the process so that we can involve more students in 2021 across our College of 1,300 students from Prep to Year 12.”

For more information about Matthew Flinders Anglican College, visit www.mfac.edu.au

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