Student innovators rise to pandemic design challenge

Student innovators from across the state have excelled in this year's Young Change Agents Design Challenge, funded by the Telstra Foundation and delivered in partnership with the Department of Education and Training's Tech Schools.

Throughout Term 2 and Term 3 this year, students from secondary schools across Victoria have been busy designing solutions to local pandemic related problems, such as social isolation and stress.

The challenge has brought hundreds of students affiliated with Victoria's Tech Schools, including Bendigo, Yarra Ranges, and Monash Tech Schools, and Knox Innovation Opportunity and Sustainability Centre (KIOSC) together to collaborate, compete and innovate virtually.

How the challenge worked

The challenge was divided into two 'design sprints'. The first sprint in May was open to 250 secondary students, who worked in small teams to develop solutions to problems they had identified.

The top 13 teams from the four Tech Schools were selected from Design Sprint 1 to participate compete as 'finalists' in Design Sprint 2, held in July.

In Design Sprint 2, the finalists worked with their local Tech School, Young Change Agents and Telstra mentors to further develop their solutions to pandemic-related problems, including isolation and remote learning.

The finalists presented their solutions to a judging panel in a virtual showcase on 17 August.

And the winners are…

First

Lilly from Bendigo East Secondary College (Bendigo Tech School), took first place with her Project Plant concept. Lilly designed a plant subscription box service to connect people virtually and build a community of people growing plants in their home. Users are sent plant boxes with fun, interactive instructions on how to care for them. Users are encouraged to connect with their local, virtual gardening groups. An app gives customers the guidance they need and keeps them learning and motivated. 

Second 

Jenny, Murtaza, Mohammad, Zengqin and Fei from Dandenong Secondary College (KIOSC), won second place for their Hax and Tipz app to make online learning more interesting and engaging for Year 7 students. The app, specifically for Year 7 students and their parents and teachers, includes features like notifications of latest events, reminders, chats and tip and tricks to keep a healthy mental frame.

Third

Equal third place went to Cooper and Alder, from Bendigo East Secondary College (Bendigo Tech School), for their Ed-Level-Up study rewards idea. They developed a website using gamification to motivate students to complete schoolwork during remote learning.

Rhiannon from Healesville High School (Yarra Ranges Tech School), came equal third place for her Study Sync concept. It is an app that gives students control over their study schedules, their work and their mental health.

Congratulations to each of the award recipients, along with every student who took part, for their inspiring solutions.

More details about the winning projects and finalists can be found at YCA Coronavirus Design Challenge.

Generous support

In addition to providing professional mentors to finalist teams, Telstra provided $3000 in prizes for the winning teams.

Find out more

For more Information about the Challenge, Young Change Agents and Victoria's 10 Tech Schools, visit