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‘Appy days for Matthew Flinders Anglican College student named Innovation Awards finalist


A Matthew Flinders Anglican College student’s idea to solve carparking challenges using a mobile phone app has landed her a prestigious finalist position in the 2023 Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards

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Matthew Flinders Anglican College (Flinders) Year 10 student Isabella was recently named as one of 13 finalists in Years 9 to 12 across multiple Sunshine Coast schools in the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards 2023.

Her award entry, MyPark Finder, is a prototype application that can be downloaded on mobile phones to help people solve the frustration of locating car parks, while saving them time and fuel.

The app will let people search a destination to find available car parks that they can book ahead of time online.

Isabella’s app was recognised as a finalist in the awards for using creativity, innovation or technology to solve a community, environmental or business challenge.

The budding designer is studying Digital Solutions, one of a suite of Technologies subject offerings in the secondary school, and is also involved in the Flinders Innovation Club, a co-curricular activity to mentor and challenge keen entrepreneurs and innovators.

“The experience of just being in the finalist round was amazing,” Isabella said.

“I didn’t place at the awards; however, I am very grateful for all the support that was provided to me throughout the whole process.”

As an awards finalist, Isabella received expert mentoring from University of the Sunshine Coast Professor Andrew Bradley, a registered biomedical professional engineer.

Professor Bradley has published over 160 peer-reviewed articles and is a named inventor on 20 patents awarded in the USA, Japan and Europe.

He provided Isabella with mentoring over two three-hour sessions, helping her to refine her prototype and prepare a pitch for the finals pitch event and awards ceremony on 20 July.

Isabella was away on school camp for the finals event, so she was able to submit her pitch via a video presentation. During her pitch video Isabella began with empathy, noting, “Living in Sydney city for 15 years, the time and frustration felt in the car looking for a park is horrendous!

“Whether you live in a city or a region like the Sunshine Coast, this is a widespread problem that needs a solution. Evidence from my conducted survey depicts that 94.1 per cent of people have noticed an increase of traffic in their area.

“This can only mean more cars on the road, more greenhouse gas emissions are being produced and more people who will take up those once-available car parks.”

Isabella’s carpark booking app also has a point system incentive for users to gain vouchers with partner businesses in the local area, such as cafes, when a user reaches a certain number of points.

The cost of developing an app is immense – Isabella notes that it can cost anywhere between $15,000 to $100,000 – so she is considering applying for a grant through the Queensland Female Founders Co-Investment Fund as well as crowdfunding and angel investing.

Isabella has also submitted her prototype to the gen[in] student innovation challenge, hosted by the University of Queensland.

For students like Isabella to flourish in their design and technology-related endeavours, a supportive and nurturing educational environment is critical, and design thinking is a key part of Flinders’ curriculum.

Isabella and her peers have been supported in this area by Physics and Engineering teacher and Teacher-in-Charge of the Flinders Innovation Club Peter Horton and Secondary teacher Emma Hodkinson.

“Isabella has been an absolute pleasure to work with and has demonstrated exceptional skills around problem solving, design thinking and entrepreneurship as part of her journey through this competition,” Mr Horton said.

“These are 21st century skills, also known as enterprise skills, that are looked favourably upon by industry professionals and employers alike.”

Flinders Head of Department of Technologies Natalle Sutton has been delighted to see how students like Isabella are transforming their studies into practical solutions.

“Design Thinking is embedded into elements of the primary and secondary curriculum at Flinders and we are thrilled to see our students exploring original design concepts and creating solutions to help make the world a better place,” Mrs Sutton said.

“Isabella has enjoyed the process and learnt a great deal from industry experts.

“Being open to feedback and refining your idea is an important part of a successful design process and is what we teach at Flinders.”

In 2022, three Flinders design students won second place for their Orbital Caddy prototype in the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards and also won first place at the gen[in] Student Innovation Challenge led by the University of Queensland.

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