Secondary students in the Newcastle area will be part of an innovative learning experience designed to create and develop a sustainable future for the city.

Students from nine Newcastle high schools will be participating. Photo supplied.

The Sustainnovation Challenge created by local company MCB Business Partner is a program that creates opportunities for government and businesses to collaborate with educators and students, helping to solve the problems that matter most in their local communities.

City of Newcastle announced on Wednesday their collaboration with the Sustainnovation Challenge project, delivered under council’s NewSkills and Living Lab programs.

The program consists of four innovative challenges students will work through, including improving social inclusion and accessibility, dealing with plastic, planning for an ageing community, and preparing for a creative economy.

Students from nine high schools, including Newcastle High, Lambton High, Hunter School of the Performing Arts, West Wallsend High, Merewether High, St Philip’s Christian College, Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College and Big Picture Education Cooks Hill Campus, will attend online workshops tackling the program’s four challenges over the next few months.

The first two challenges of the program held in November and December will touch on innovative ideas around how the community can benefit from being a smart and accessible city and how a smart city should deal with plastic.  

The students will be guided by mentors and specialists in different fields, teaching them applied innovation, system engineering and other developmental tools and principles. 

Program director Duncan Burck said ideas displaying the greatest smart city potential would progress to council’s Living Lab accelerator program, which could eventually be implemented.

“Applied innovation is a systematic process of creating ideas to improve or make something work better. It provides an opportunity to fast-track those things that will enhance our lives, communities and the environment we live in now and for future generations,” Burck said.

“The more we listen to and encourage our young people to share their perspectives, the better the ideas and future decisions we’ll be able to make as a whole community.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said he was excited to see the opportunities this would present to the students, helping them shape the city’s social, economic and environmental future.

“City of Newcastle is committed to leading the way in smarter living and creating a sustainable global future for the next generation,” Cr Clausen said.

“The goal of the Sustainnovation Challenge is to empower young people to embrace a new way of thinking and acting, to help create a sustainable future across all sectors of our community.”

Schools interested in registering can go to sustainnovationchallenge.com.au.

Information source: Media release, Sustainnovation Challenge

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