St John’s a launchpad to future thinkers’ success at NASA

Forest Lake one day, NASA the next: A group of Brisbane school students are on their way to the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, chosen as the most innovative junior minds in Australia.

The 26 St John’s Anglican College ‘Future Thinkers’ were the only students nationally selected for the second year running to join a hand-picked group of international students at NASA as part of the annual Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge.

To be chosen, students from around the world were required to come up with real life game-changing ideas that would support global sustainability and benefit humanity. They had to recognise a problem, come up with a solution and identify a path to commercialisation for that solution.

Among the St John’s Anglican College Future Thinkers’ ideas were innovative medical devices to support sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and anaphylaxis. Another group came up with a clever app to benefit insomniacs and other students developed a space suit to enhance safety for astronauts.

Head of College Suzanne Bain said St John’s was justifiably proud, especially given the fact that this was the second year in a row students made the semi finals and were invited to NASA. They are the only students across the whole of Australia to win the coveted invitation.

“The Challenge equips our students with essential skills to succeed in a rapidly changing global future,” Ms Bain said. “It teaches them to connect, create and collaborate and encourages them to design things that really matter and make a difference in the world.”

The Conrad Challenge announcement comes on the back of the Federal Government’s inaugural meeting of the Innovation and Science Committee of Cabinet last month, which is responsible for implementing the government’s $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Chaired by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, this is the first time a dedicated cabinet committee has been established by the Federal Government to oversee innovation and science, highlighting the critical importance of these issues to Australia’s economic prosperity and the emphasis that the government places on innovative thinking. St John’s Anglican College Year 11 student Olivia Hutley travelled to Florida in 2015 as part of the school’s Conrad Challenge team.

“I wouldn’t trade in the experience for the world!” Olivia enthused. “It taught me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you always have the capability to achieve something amazing.”

The Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge will be held at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, from April 20-24.

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