As technology continues to rapidly advance, providing children with opportunities to learn and gain vital technology-based skills is essential to ensuring their futures. The Commissioner’s Space to Dream Challenge asks children to learn design thinking skills and apply them to creating concepts for a toy or gadget for someone their age who is moving to Mars.

Year 4 Caley’s ‘Robot Pet’

Out of an estimated 12,000 students completing the challenge, 92 entries from 32 South Australian schools were submitted to the Commissioner for consideration. The Commissioner selected Caley in Year 4 at Bellevue Heights Primary School to receive the grand prize of a 3D printer for the school for her ‘Robot Pet’. The Commissioner noted the caring nature of Caley’s creation which was described by the student as: “Designed to comfort people who like pets, it gives them a way to communicate with people back on Earth. It can also heat itself to warm people up”.

Other entries to the competition included:

  • ‘The Jokemeter 2000’ – that “tells you jokes when you’re sad or scared, as well as if there’s something dangerous coming.”
  • ‘The Incredible Mogo Stick’ – “a pogo stick for space with a wire that latches onto a rock so you can jump as high as you want and don’t float away”.
  • ‘Skatercat’ – a robotic cat with a camera in its belly and a fridge in the back. “It’s shaped like a cat because cats are very curious and love to explore. It makes a great travelling companion with a space in his head to keep stuff and an outer squish mallow layer that’s soft and squishy for hugs when you get anxious”.

Steve Malley, teacher of Caley, said “When I entered the class into the competition, I really did not expect this wonderful outcome as there are so many talented students out there. I have been teaching for over 35 years and would never have expected to teach students a design process with the possibility of actually printing their ideas into a 3D model. With that in mind I am quite excited to see how technology changes and challenges students in the near and far future, simply amazing!”

Other children in Mr Malley’s class said that they “liked coming up with different ideas and making notes on the ideas” and also enjoyed “how it had to be detailed and use [their] imaginations”.

The Commissioner’s Space to Dream Challenge is in its third year and was originally devised to inspire the next generation of South Australian entrepreneurs and innovators. The Commissioner said: “I found it interesting this year that there was such a strong focus on designs providing toys or gadgets that cared for children rather than those of previous years which did practical things, or which entertained. All children and young people in SA should be able to engage with the digital world and access its benefits. That’s why I made my Challenge suitable for every school student and adaptable to any age and digital literacy level.”

Mandi Dimitriadis, Director of Learning at Makers Empire (who provide the software for the Challenge) said, “I am once again reminded of what can happen when you give young people the tools and opportunities – they do amazing things. Makers Empire is proud of our ongoing partnership with the Commissioner for Children and Young People and the opportunities it brings for young people to develop important design thinking skills, empathy for others, and excitement about the space industry and future possibilities.”

In 2023, the Commissioner’s Space to Dream Exhibition will tour to 18 metropolitan and regional centres and libraries across Adelaide, as well as to community venues in Mount Gambier, Port Broughton, Hawker, Peterborough, Whyalla, Barmera, KI and Murray Bridge.

You can catch Caley’s winning ‘Robot Pet’, along with 19 other featured designs, at the 2022 Space to Dream Exhibition at the Australian Space Discovery Centre until Friday 20 January 2023.
Bookings are essential.

To view the full list of winners of the Space to Dream challenge, go here.

The Commissioner’s Digital Challenge re-opens on Day 1 of Term 1 in 2023: Schools can pre-register here.