Empowering Innovation and Sparking Change-Makers

At Santa Maria College, our goal is to foster an environment where students are empowered to explore new ideas through a structured and supportive approach.

Explore8 forms the Year 8 component of our emPOWER Learning Projects, which provide innovative ways for our girls to learn practical life skills, connect their learning to life and create social change in our world.

The Explore8 learning project saw students engage both individually and collaboratively to address a real-world issue of their preference. Guided by the Design Thinking Process, the girls explored ways to resolve their challenges and create feasible solutions, laying the groundwork for their Explore8 projects.

In order to enrich their learning experience, students had the privilege of engaging with a series of exceptional and innovative guest speakers. Among them were Katherin Domansky, who is actively involved in the Net Zero Australia project, Sister Sally Bradley, Executive Director of Mercy Works, Elissa Glorie, visionary founder of the sustainable underwear brand Moja, Madison Heady, a dedicated disability advocate.

Moreover, the girls participated in a variety of skills sessions, one-on-one mentorship sessions with teachers, and fun mind gym activities.

With the Explore8 emPower project, our aspiration is for students to carry their ideas forward as budding entrepreneurs and continue nurturing them for future development.

Here is what some of our students had to say about their Explore8 experience:

Sophie McCarthy: I have enjoyed the Explore8 project immensely throughout the past week, and the opportunity to work on an individual project about a topic I am passionate about has been incredible.

For my project, I was focused on education in Cambodia. Cambodia has always been a place very close to my heart, especially after I travelled there when I was ten to help in a school there and meet our two sponsored children. There are some vast discrepancies between education in Cambodia and Australia. Lack of education, or poor-quality education, is one of the main reasons for Cambodia’s poverty. After deciding I wanted to focus on Cambodia, I interviewed a family friend who has been living in Cambodia for the past year and helping out in a disadvantaged school there. In the interview, I learned of some of the problems affecting education in Cambodia and decided to concentrate on the lack of supplies and technology for students. My solution for this was to create a website for a charity where people from privileged and wealthy nations could donate their old technology, and it could be taken directly to students in Cambodia to enrich and further their education.

Explore 8 taught me a lot about independence, resourcefulness and how to persevere through challenges, and I am so grateful I got a chance to do this project.

To view Sophie’s project, click here

Madelyn Smith: I interviewed my dad, who is an experienced recreational fisherman. Fishing and marine science are areas I’m very interested in and passionate about. After the interview, I had two points or issues that I had identified. These were; seabirds and marine life are endangered by loose fishing lines and hooks, which in turn endangers humans, and tackle is lost on snags and rocks. 

In the end, it was a process of elimination. Tackle being lost is a part of fishing, and everyone, no matter what level of skill, will lose tackle. So, I also decided to focus on protecting seabirds. This is because my dad explained how hazardous and dangerous ensnared seabirds became. Not only are they often the cause of lines having to be cut, but they can steal baits, lures, and fish. The ideas I came up with were a stay-away bird spray and a bird-friendly fishing line.

Overall, my experience with Explore8 was a very positive one that I enjoyed. It was great to be able to learn about something I was passionate about and be able to do something about it. Being able to utilise my creative problem-solving skills and think differently than normal was wonderful! Since I picked something I was genuinely interested in to focus on, my time was spent productively, and I was able to get a lot done.

To view Madelyn’s video submission, you can click here

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