Students win accessible airport design competition

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A team from McCallums Hill Public School in New South Wales, Australia, has won a competition to design Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport using the Minecraft video game.

A team of five Year 5 and 6 students from the school’s support unit used the popular digital building block game to come up with their vision for Sydney’s new airport, winning A$20,000 (USD$13,550) to be used for STEM learning resources.

The competition, an initiative of Liverpool City Council, was co-designed by the NSW Department of Education to align with the curriculum. Students from around 40 schools across Western Sydney took part in this year’s competition.

The winning design from McCallums Hill Public School in Roselands focused on sustainability, customer experience and accessibility. It featured an indoor Great Barrier Reef, solar panels and wind power, drought-tolerant trees, and automatic cars for people with disability.

Year 5/6 support unit class teacher Ben Spiteri said it was the first time the school had entered the competition and that he and his students were “blown away” by their success.

The students had worked on their competition entry across Term 2 using it as a STEM project. The team first surveyed teachers and staff about their views on existing airports and isolated three main problems with current airports – that airports were boring, often difficult to access, and bad for the environment. They then worked on finding solutions to those problems, before testing and modifying their design based on feedback from staff and students.

“The competition saw students use Minecraft to tackle the same challenge that the Western Sydney Airport team is working on right now – considering passenger experience, sustainability and accessibility to design the best airport possible,” said Western Sydney Airport CEO Graham Millett.

“Each of the students should be delighted with what they’ve achieved – their designs show creativity and outstanding use of problem-solving skills.”

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Tara has worked for UKi Media & Events since 2013, initially as a freelancer. She has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a range of publications, including Personnel Today, Management Today and The Grocer.

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