St Joseph’s College Geelong has a proud history of involvement with UpStart that dates back to 2012. This year, eleven very talented Year 8 students, took part in the UpStart Express Challenge. Different to past challenges, this year’s Express Challenge consisted of students partaking in a week-long intensive entrepreneurial journey during Science Week – exploring an idea from problem to impact. Students investigated how a problem affects people, imagined ways to solve it, developed a model for how to bring their solution idea to life, and then developed and communicated their vision to a group of Foundation members in the form of a pitch. All three teams were incredibly successful, gaining high praise from the Foundation judges.

Team one consisted of Jaylen S, Hieu V and Edward J decided to focus their talents on addressing issues of equality in our community, developing an all-terrain beach wheelchair that would provide uses with the ability to engage in play at the beach while being supported by a harnessed seat. Team two, Connor O, Tommy L, Kade H and Noah B developed an app called ‘Wake’ that would wake you up with soothing tones or motivational comments in the morning but would only turn off once you moved out of the sensor range. This addressed the problem of pressing snooze multiple times and waking up feeling unrested. The third team, Felix P, Brodie E, Ranura J and Cian G tackled the issue of remote and hybrid learning proposing a new learning management system SAM (the child of PAM) which integrated all assignments, learning hubs, and classwork into the one system for students, streamlining the experience of remote learning for students.

All teams addressed real-world problems and undertook extensive customer research before developing their solutions. They then each had the opportunity to meet with an industry professional who helped to mentor the team through the process. A big thank you is extended to our judging panel, Foundation members Lucy Dripps and Warick Brown who gave up their time to provide the students with a real-world audience to pitch to, beyond their peers. Their highlights included:

  • You each played to your strengths – it was great to see that you were able to work so well together.
  • You presented a very united front, wearing the school uniform well and with pride.
  • It was wonderful to hear that you really care about equality in our world and making sure everyone has equal access to life’s experiences.
  • Your level of research was impressive. You definitely had a good understanding of the problem with research to back this up.

Congratulations to all eleven students who now have the opportunity to enter their pitches formally for the chance to represent St Joseph’s College Geelong at the National Showcase.