Year 8 Drought Project

At the end of Term 1 our Year 8 students finalised their innovative solutions to the cross-curricular project titled “How can we survive a drought?”.

This project had begun 8 weeks prior, with a launch day in which students were exposed to the realities of Day Zero. They heard real stories of people living in drought-affected communities, learned about the impacts of drought on family finances, mental health, and more. You can read more about the Launch Day in our blog post here

The theme of drought was woven into units of study throughout the term and the students enjoyed seeing how interconnected their subjects are. 

Throughout the term students also engaged with a number of project days. On these days the students had access to experts in different fields to develop their solutions further.  They used the design thinking process to identity their target market and research current solutions before developing their own ideas further. 

We were amazed by the solutions the students developed. Teams created apps to promote connections between communities, they developed prototypes of water saving devices, a virtual reality game to promote empathy, education resources for teenagers living in remote areas, fundraising and awareness campaigns, and much more. 


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Students showed their initiative as they presented their solutions while learning remotely. 

Teams developed a wide range of solutions – from mobile apps, to small business support.

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One team created a documentary about the forgotten victims of drought, including video interviews with rural high school students discussing how the drought has impacted their lives.

This short video shows the highlights of the project, including the many innovative ways students presented their solutions while learning remotely:

We are excited to bring many more future-focused learning opportunities to our students this year!



Fromelles Documentary Filming

Filming for our documentary is well underway following today’s session with Patrick Lindsay and the team. The focus of the day was recording each student’s personal reflections on their involvement in the project.

While the individual interviews were taking place a small group was working with Dan Zammit on how to perform effectively in front of a camera. This was preparation for the afternoon filming session in Paddington. We are fortunate to have such generous parents in our community who give freely of their time and expertise for our students.

During the morning we were joined by Jane McDonald. Jane is the grand niece of George Duncan, a soldier killed at the Battle of Fromelles who lived just down the road from the College in Newland Street. Ayla Riza and Elena Wregg compiled a video tribute to George and it was wonderful for them to spend time with Jane and learn more about George and the family through a number of personal items and letters that Jane had brought along.

Having Jane with us meant there was a great opportunity to involve her in the filming of the documentary. Jane was very accommodating and was happy to have Ayla and Elena join her in front of the camera talking about George and how his death had impacted on the family.

The final part of the day was filming on location at Paddington. The specific location was Bent Street, chosen due to the fact that of the thirty houses that existed in the street at the time, twenty-nine men went off to war. Over half did not return or returned with significant injuries.

Here is the video tribute of George Duncan that Ayla and Elena put together for Jane and her family.

Fromelles Documentary Update

On Tuesday the Fromelles Project Team gathered for a planning session with Patrick Lindsay from Limetree Studios. The team worked for the entire day on various aspects of the documentary, from finalising video profiles to building up the storyboard. We were joined during the day by the French Consul-General, Anne Boillon, the Australian representative of Hauts-de-France, Dana Levy and our local State MP, Dr Marjorie O’Neill, who has and continues to be a wonderful advocate for our project.

The day began with a run through of the proposed itinerary for the filming schedule in and around Fromelles happening in April. Fromelles is located in the Hauts-de-France region of the country so having Dana on hand was particularly valuable in the students learning more about some of the other features of the region outside the traditional battlefields of the Western Front.

The day was built around the visit by the French Consul-General, Anne Boillon. Anne was joined by her assistant and Dr Marjorie O’Neill who was instrumental in alerting Anne to the project. Upon Anne’s arrival the students joined her for a morning tea for an informal chat about her role and what the students can expect when they visit France.

Following morning tea the team moved to The Barbara Dell Hub to walk Anne through the details of the project and show her the work they had already completed on their individual soldiers.

The work the students have already created is incredible. They have worked in their own time to create more video profiles of soldiers killed at the Battle of Fromelles. The creation of new profiles was is response to the number of families who had provided us with information regarding relatives buried in the mass grave at Pheasant Wood.

One of these soldiers was Edgar Williams. We were contacted by relatives of Edgar who were eager for us to include him in our work. Claudia Van Dam kindly took on this role and her effort in putting together this profile in such a short time is a testament to the commitment to the project exhibited by her and all the students involved. They are incredible young women.

Claudia spoke with Edgar’s relatives on Tuesday afternoon and is waiting for feedback on the video from the family. This is authentic learning in action!

Here is the video profile Claudia created on Edgar:

You can find regular updates on the project on our Instagram account.

Drought Project Launch Day

This term all of our Year 8 students are participating in an exciting project titled “How Can We Survive a Drought?” Over the next 6 weeks they will learn about the current drought in Australia and work to respond to the personal, social, economic and political impacts of such an event.

Students will be learning about this topic in depth within their classes of English, Maths, Art, TAS, Geography, Science, and Languages. In a small group they will work to prepare a response or solution to one of the many problems associated with drought.

Today the Year 8s were immersed in this topic through our Project Launch Day.

The students were first exposed to the experience of Day Zero through a series of workshops:

They watched some powerful performances by our Year 11 students who enacted the real stories and heartbreak of people living in drought affected communities.

Students considered the financial impact of drought when tasked with creating a weekly budget on a reduced income, and saw how an increase in the price of their groceries forced them to make some hard sacrifices in other areas.

In another workshop, they analysed the quality of different sources of water, and decided how much of each type of water they would need to use for different household activities.

Students discussed the experiences of being a high-school student in a drought affected community with one of our teachers who grew up in this reality.


The wellbeing and mental health of people living in drought was considered as students read and reflected upon recent news articles.

And students acted out some of the social impacts of drought on a town in a hands-on simulation where they were assigned the role of farmer or townsperson, and had to maintain their income and support their families.


Following these in-depth workshops on the experience of drought, students were then exposed to many of the current responses to drought.

Year 9 students presented some technological solutions they developed last year, including an automated shower timer, and a sensor for farmers to monitor the wellbeing of livestock.


Other responses included strengthening city/community ties through Buy From the Bush, the social media campaign #spendwiththem, some incredible poetry, and photography.

At the end of this session, students were asked: How will you respond?

Today showed our Year 8 students the extent of the problem of drought in Australia, and how it really does impact every facet of people’s lives. By the end of this Launch Day the ideas were flowing, and we look forward to seeing the amazing solutions our students develop this term.

Masterchef Challenge

Last week our Year 9 Hospitality students participated in a ‘Masterchef Challenge’ here at the College. Under similar conditions to the well known television program, the students were given a time limit and specific ingredients to create a variety of dishes.

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As usual the students were up to the challenge and the quality of food they put forward would please any Masterchef contestant. We are looking forward to seeing their progress throughout the next three years. The depth of talent within the group is incredible.

Year 5 STEAM Day

On Wednesday 4th December the College hosted over eighty Year 5 students from  our feeder primary schools. This was a wonderful opportunity for our primary students to experience some of the activities that students at St Clare’s College are exposed to on a regular basis.

There were four workshops running throughout the day that students could choose to participate in. Engineers Without Borders, from Macquarie University, offered students the opportunity to solve real world problems in two interactive tasks while Robogals, from UNSW, exposed the students in their workshop to the incredible Lego Mindstorm robots. The team from Block42 3D animation showcased their new platform of animation creation while Mike Richards from UNSW showed the students how to build and race a mini solar car.

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The day was a wonderful success and we are delighted that the Year 5 students were able to develop some new skills while having a lot of fun along the way.


Mind on Maths Challenge

A small group of Year 7 and 8 students attended Sydney Catholic Schools’ Mind on Maths Challenge at St Ursula’s College, Kingsgrove last Friday. The day was a chance to work collaboratively on a variety of mathematical problems as well as meet students from across the Eastern and Inner West regions.

The day began with some basic number challenges in school teams before each team was split up to ensure students worked with members of other schools. This was a fantastic way to make sure there was collaboration across schools and the students had a lot of fun solving problems and meeting new people.

Hopefully we will be able to provide more opportunities for our students to be involved in collaborative problem solving in mathematics.



National Brilliant Business Kids Festival

A group of ten of our outstanding Year 9 students took part in the National Brilliant Business Kids Festival at the University of Sydney yesterday. The festival was a collaborative effort bringing together students from rural regions around the nation through Agrifutures Australia, Startup.Business and Innovateen.

Throughout the day students heard from a range of experts across a fields that would assist in helping them prepare a great pitch for their solution. The day opened with a keynote address from Geoff Lee, the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, followed by Xavier Ross, Westpac’s Entrepreneur in Residence and Aaron Tait from Education Changemakers.

Following morning tea the Innovateen schools involved (ourselves, Marcellin, Brigidine, St Catherine’s and St Mary’s Cathedral)  moved off to work on their presentations and were able to spend time with Brian Dorricot, CSIRO’s Lead Facilitator, who gave some great tips on putting an effective pitch together. Prior to lunch all schools presented their pitch to a panel of experts hoping to be selected to present at the National Pitch Event in the evening.

For the schools connected with Innovateen, the festival was the culmination of four weeks of planning a solution to one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Our students decided that they would form just one team that would work to come up with a solution to Goal 7, Affordable and Clean Energy. The concept built around street paving that generated electricity was amazing and well received by the judges. So much so that we were selected to present our pitch again in the evening.

Prior to finishing the afternoon’s session we heard from Genevieve Radman, a nurse at Emanuel School in Randwick. Genevieve has started her own charity, Gennarosity Abroad, and we were all in awe of what she had achieved through passion, commitment and belief. Her story was inspirational and our students were very keen to explore how we could support her work in the future.

There was much planning done between the end of the afternoon session and the evening’s presentations. The students had selected the four team members who would do the pitch and made some minor adjustments to their presentation.

In the National event the students from the regional areas pitched first. We were all amazed, firstly at the problems they faced and then at the incredible solutions they came up with.  Being able to know how many of the water troughs on your property have water in them is a huge issue for farmers, as is being able to transport cattle comfortably in extreme heat.

These were just two problems that the students from South Australia and Manila in north west New South Wales had come up with solutions for. It was a very worthwhile experience for our students to hear the problems that rural communities face. It certainly put into perspective some of the problems we face in our daily lives in Waverley!

The evening pitches from both rural and urban schools were very impressive. There are so many passionate and talented students around our nation who will no doubt ensure we are able to face many of the challenges ahead with great optimism. Unfortunately we were not judged best pitch in the evening session. While the pitch was very polished and demonstrated the team had done their research, the judges felt we could have done a little more in outlining a business case for our idea.

The festival was a fabulous experience for all students and a big thank you to Miss Nicola Steele who ensured the team were ready to showcase an innovative concept.

Here is the evening pitch from our team:



USYD Spectacular Science Excursion

A group of Year 7 student went to the University of Sydney to take part in an amazing experience all to do with bees! There were mini workshops, all incorporating bees and the production of honey and overall it was an awesome experience. The workshops tested our abilities and knowledge on how bees produce honey, do their jobs and how bees pollinate thousands of flowers each day! 

We started off the day with a lecture from a professional beekeeper and researcher! We learnt lots of really cool facts and got to experience what a university lecture felt like. Professor Beekman taught us lots of interesting facts and information that will help in our future experiments and research on our St Clare’s bees.  After that we split off into school groups and went to our first activity. 

In our first activity we played a game that focused on being altruistic, which means to give something without expecting anything in return. After that we stopped for a small break before continuing to our next activity. This time we went to the physics lab and made paper helicopters. We had to create an experiment and collect the data to put it into a graph. This was a really interesting and fun experience and gave us a real life view of what physics university life is like. 

In the science lab we did two different activities. The first one was bee bingo. In this activity we were each given a type of bee and we had to examine this bee under a microscope. We then had to decide what aspect suited our bee and match them up. For example if you noticed that your bee had a large, stocky body and head then it would probably be a buzz pollinator compared to using pollen baskets. 

Our second activity was honey tasting and evaluating. In this activity we were given honey made by the 5 different types of bees which were the European Honeybee, Stingless Bee, Blue Banded Bee, Green Metallic Bee, Sweat Bee and Teddy Bear Bee. We had to test the honey on consistency, smell, flavour, clarity and colour. Even though all the honey looked very similar they had a variety of tastes and smells. We also noticed that the stingless bee honey had a lot less produced because they only produce 1 kg a year so there was a limited amount of honey. We also found this was the runnier type of honey and a unique one to eat.

After we had finished all of our workshops we had a final lecture. This involved liquid nitrogen. The lecturer asked us questions about it and even gave an experiment on an egg. It showed how different chemicals and forces can affect different aspects of nature. It was a very educational lecture which was easy and fun to listen to. The presenter also used gas from a fire extinguisher to push a go kart. It was a very interesting and unique presentation.

We all really enjoyed this experience and would highly recommend it to others. We learnt lots, had fun and got to see the life inside a real university! We speak for the group when we say that was an amazing experience and we were all very inspired by how much effort the university had put into it. 

Olivia Zammit and Suki Waddell (Year 7)

USYD Spectacular Science Day

A select group of Year 7 students spent the day at the University of Sydney today as part of their Spectacular Science event. Five students from each of our four Science classes were chosen to attend today’s event which was for Stage 4 students only.  The theme of the event was ‘bees’ which was a perfect fit for the STEM project our Year 7 students are currently involved in.

The day started with a talk  about ‘bees’ from Professor Madeleine Beekman before the students moved to the first workshop on ‘A Bees Dilemma’ which looked at why  bees prioritise the well-being of the hive over their own interests? And what happens if they decide not to?

A second workshop on the flight of the bumblebee took place after morning tea. So how do they fly? Using the scientific method of Predict, Observe, Explain we investigated the mechanics of the flight of the bumblebee.

A workshop on ‘The Pollinator’ took place after lunch. In this workshop we learnt that Australia is home to a vast number of solitary and social native bee species that are incredibly effective pollinators, but could you pick them out of a bee-line-up? We examined what these bees look like; how they pollinate; consider their favourite native plants and how they can use their adaptations to pollinate food crop plants. It wouldn’t be agriculture without eating, so we also conducted a sensory analysis of honey to determine if we could taste the subtle differences in a range of honeys.

The day finished with a Science Show before the long walk back to Redfern Station! The students who attended today’s event will be required to present what they learnt from the various workshops to the rest of the students in their Science class thereby helping all Year 7 students develop a deeper understanding of these incredible creatures.

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