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Next-gen talent quiz Australia’s leading thinkers on the role of technology in tomorrow’s world

Mel Silva, Managing Director, Google Australia 

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How can we better humanise technology? That’s the question 150 students and teachers from 18 schools in New South Wales tackled head on as part of the Department of Education’s annual Game Changer Challenge.

Students and teachers attended Google Sydney headquarters for the flagship event, which kicked off the three-day Challenge. It was organised in collaboration with Google for Education and is part of Education Week 2019.

Schools represented came from as far west as Broken Hill and north to Nimbin - and those a little closer like the Sydney Children’s Hospital School.

The event saw teams of students applying critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity to come up with solutions to some of the big challenges of our future - and the role that technology can play in this.

Students learned how to apply ‘design sprint’ thinking – a human-centred approach to innovation – to address various problems. They went through simulations that taught them how to apply empathy and collaboration as part of the design thinking process.

To help inform their thinking, students were also able to ask some great (and sometimes tricky!) questions of leading Australian futurists, academics and thinkers – including Scientia Professor Toby Walsh from the University of NSW, Dr Matt Beard from The Ethics Centre, Lloyd Godson who teaches Marine studies at Hastings Secondary College and Distinguished Professor Mary-Anne Williams from the University of Technology. We were also joined by the NSW Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell and NSW Department of Education Secretary, Mark Scott.

The questions covered rural access to technology, education and healthcare, programming, how artificial intelligence could be used to build a sustainable future, and how technology has affected human evolution.

More than 65% of today's learners will work in jobs that don’t currently even exist. We’re committed to helping kids develop the problem-solving abilities and digital skills they need to prepare them for this future, and to tackle the big challenges they’ll face. It was great to see firsthand the impact it had for the students who attended.

But perhaps Sydney Children’s Hospital School principal Lisa Shortland said it best: “At our school, experiences for the students outside the hospital are fairly limited. As the Challenge is part of Education Week, which is a statewide initiative, it is a chance for our kids, and really important for them, to be part of something bigger.”

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