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Kathryn Broughton is a Digital Technology and Business Studies Teacher at Westlake Girls High School whose student team, Team Lunar Eclispe, created Starless Night - a game designed to create awareness around pollution. Broughton talks us through how the challenge was introduced to the students, the teams journey through developing their idea, and how they went on to win the 2018 Silver level (now Senior Secondary) at the National finals.
Broughton explained that the Tahi Rua Toru Tech challenge came onto her radar through the schools’ lunch time code club, “We consider different competition opportunities and the 123 Tech competition looked like an interesting one”.
Team Lunar was soon established, comprised of three international students who decided to tackle the subject of pollution – a topic which has been extremely poignant recently with younger generations, with the recent example of students striking for climate change across the world.
The students from team Lunar were well aware of the effects of pollution on the environment, “They did tell me that the night sky is usually not visible from their home towns in China, I was blown away by this realisation.” Broughton explained that it was this awareness that drove their passion to make other people aware of the impact of pollution has on the environment.
Once the team had been given the resources to tackle the challenge across the twelve weeks, Broughton was impressed by how simple it was to implement, and just how passionate the students were about the work, “I checked their work at different milestones – but there was actually very little for me to do. I was amazed by the amount of work and the quality of the work as it came through.”
Broughton highlighted that it was the process of the challenge that the students enjoyed the most about the whole challenge, from its inceptions, to creating and building a final project, “The girls enjoyed working together and using each of their strengths to contribute to the overall challenge.”
After completing the challenge and receiving their certificates, the team was nominated to represent their school and take their project to the regional finals – which they won in their category. The team were then advanced to the national finals being held in Wellington at Te Papa where they would present their project to a “dragons den” of industry professionals. But the team soon face a major hurdle, “Only one of the students was available to present, as the other students had already left to return to China for the summer. However, when the team realised that only one student would be available, they made the decision that they still want to compete.”
The team worked to put together a video presentation that the remaining member, Georgia, could use to assist her as she went solo against the panel, “Georgia stepped up and presented extremely well – even though this was a challenge for her. We have to also remember that English was Georgia’s second language.” But all that effort paid off, with Georgia and her team winning the Silver Challenge for 2018 and taking home $1500 for the team and $3000 for their school.
When asked if she had any advice to pass onto teacher looking to join the challenge, Broughton made a point to comment on its simplicity, saying “don’t think of this as another time-consuming opportunity. The students should be leading this, and they should be passionate and enthusiastic about their idea/problem. This is an opportunity for the students to further develop their problem solving and team skills”.