Western Sydney students come together to hack future problems

The one-day event was held at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta CBD campus and was led by Landcom and UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation.

Landcom Senior Manager, Research and Learning Nicole Campbell said Hack4cities was an exciting opportunity to bring together students from public and independent schools in Western Sydney with the private sector, local and state governments and Western Sydney University to explore solutions to community-based problems around the future of work.

“Hack4Cities is a key part of Landcom’s schools program, which creates unique experimental learning opportunities for students,” Ms Campbell said.

“Young people today will be most affected by the significant urban challenges we face now and into the future.

“Developing students’ critical thinking skills and instilling a collaborative approach to problem-solving is essential to equip them to deal with these challenges.

“Students from Years 9 and 10 will work together to solve a number of problems expected to be faced by the people of Western Sydney over the next 30 years.

“They will work together with dedicated mentors from participating organisations to come up with solutions, using the resources and data provided.”

Ms Campbell said the challenges were formulated at a workshop by participating organisations - Landcom, UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation, NAB, Western Sydney University, Western Sydney Local Health District, and Campbelltown, Liverpool, Penrith, Cumberland and Parramatta councils - who pinpointed the region’s most pressing issues. 

Topics to be explored by the students on the theme of the future of work, include quality of life, long-term health, youth engagement, education, heritage and the new aerotropolis at Badgery’s Creek.

“The students will collaborate in small groups to explore the problems, while being adaptive, resilient, creative and innovative in the process,” Ms Campbell said.

“At the end of the event, the students will pitch their solutions to a panel of judges and prizes will be given for the most innovative and practical options.

“The participating organisations will have the option to further develop the students’ solutions so they can be implemented.”

Students participating were from the following high schools:

  • Parramatta Marist High School – Parramatta LGA
  • All Saints Catholic College, Casula - Liverpool LGA
  • Amity College, Prestons – Liverpool LGA
  • Cecil Hills High School - Liverpool LGA
  • Auburn Girls High School – Cumberland LGA
  • Ambarvale High School – Campbelltown LGA
  • Parramatta High School - Parramatta LGA

The winning ideas were:

First place: Team Blank Canvas

Challenge: What are the new ways of storytelling that could ignite interest in the heritage and cultural history of Western Sydney?

Their idea was to ignite young people’s interest in history by harnessing graffiti vandalism into positive street-art murals in Western Sydney that integrate stories of Aboriginal elders with new migrant cultures. 

Team Blank Canvas consisted of students from Parramatta High School and Cecil Hills High School.

Second place: Team Aerotroplis ID

Challenge: How do we engage Western Sydney youth in the development and implementation of the aerotropolis?

Their multi-dimensional strategy was to engage young people in the future of Badgerys Creek airport by drawing on unique festival events targeting aviation history, and structural reform to the education system to tailor the curriculum to local needs and awareness.

Third place: Team MindfulHero

Challenge: How can I ensure my friends and I are healthy and live for a long time?

Their solution was a Hero’s Hangout to inspire ambassadors from the community to improve the health of other people in their community.

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