Bushfire Brave is a collaboration between Bushfire Kids Connect and Makers Empire. This pioneering program aims to help students feel well informed about bushfires and to build emotional wellbeing and empathy for managing fears and supporting recovery for bushfire impacted families. Students are empowered as problem-solvers, and design-thinkers using 3D design and printing to develop innovative designs to help families in bushfire affected areas.
Over the last three months, ten primary schools from the Adelaide Hills, Port Lincoln, and metropolitan Adelaide have piloted the Bushfire Brave program. The schools were Annesley Junior College, Lenswood Primary School, Lincoln Gardens Primary School, Lobethal Lutheran School, Lobethal Primary School, Mercedes College, Nazareth College, Port Lincoln Primary School, Scotch College and Stirling East Primary School.
On November 30th, 2021, the schools came together for a showcase event at the Adelaide Hills Convention Centre to celebrate and share their learning.
The day began with Mandi Dimitriadis, Director of Learning at Makers Empire, welcoming students, teachers and invited guests. Mandi then invited student Marlowe from Stirling East Primary School to acknowledge the Country that we were meeting on. She in turn introduced Courtney, a Peramangk and Ngarrindjeri woman, to do a welcome to country.
Next, Bushfire Kids Connect Founders, Carly and Sebastian Ascott, explained how their community group supports the wellbeing of children and families impacted by bushfires. Connecting with more than 100 families across SA affected by the devastating bushfire seasons over the past two years, Bushfire Kids Connect aims to tell their stories in their voice.
Mandi then invited students from the two Port Lincoln schools to present their projects via live video.
After the speeches, it was time for the showcase! Students alternated between hosting their stands and sharing their projects with stand visitors, and visiting other schools’ stands to learn about their projects. Students were encouraged to ask each other questions and provide feedback to each other.
During the exhibition, some students were interviewed by Makers Empire’s co founder, Roland Peddie, about their designs for the Port Lincoln students. Students then voted on their favourite stand (students were not allowed to vote on their own stand) and had lunch.
After lunch, it was time for the winner of the showcase to be announced. The Mayor of the Adelaide Hills, Jan-Claire Wisdom, gave a short speech in which she congratulated the students and teachers on their projects and said she was glad to see such strong community spirit and positive actions happening as a result of the devastating hills fires. She then announced the winner as voted by other students: Stirling East Primary School!
“The showcase day showed how powerful it can be when we put design thinking skills in the hands of primary school students,” said Mandi Dimitriadis, Director of Learning at Makers Empire.
“The focus on helping other children and families by designing solutions to bushfire related issues was evident in all of the projects and the genuine empathy for other people was truly inspiring. It was wonderful to be able to use technology to connect with students in Port Lincoln bringing a state-wide sense of community to the day.
I would like to congratulate all teachers and students on using Makers Empire to create a diverse range of creative, innovative, useful, and thoughtful ideas,” she added.
Makers Empire will be partnering with Bushfire Kids Connect again in 2022.
“Our partnership with Bushfire Kids Connect has been extremely rewarding and exciting. We hope to spread the word to more students around South Australia as we continue to work together in 2022,” said Mandi.