This is Kai’s first year in the Virtual Academy, a program run as part of the Catholic Schools Office Gifted Education K-12 policy and strategy, which commits to providing high-ability students with learning opportunities to realise their full potential.
As part of the Academy’s patterns unit, Kai was asked to choose either a local or global problem and then come up with a solution to that problem using patterns – he chose the local community of his street.
“In my neighbourhood there are no lights, you can barely see anything,” said Kai.
“I put out a survey to the people in my street and they all felt we needed a new light.
“This project relates to patterns with sleeping because a lot of people said that if the light was too bright they wouldn’t be able to sleep.”
In order to make his street a safer environment and to ensure resident’s sleep was not disrupted, Kai came up with a solar powered sensor activated light.
“I designed a new light bulb which is eco-friendly – it’s solar powered and it has a filter into a water turbine,” explained Kai.
With Kai’s solution, dubbed The Light Source, every second pole in his street would have a light and sensor. The sensor would be able to detect moving cars and turn on the light for thirty seconds.
Kai has found many enjoyable aspects in working as part of the Virtual Academy.
“I’ve learnt a lot more about my computer and how to use it, and how solar energy and hydro energy work.
“Also the fact that I can talk to other people, all the other studenrs and my online teacher all on my computer.
“Being able to do this project has showed me that even though I’m only 12, I can make a change.”
Kate Buchanan Willis, Kai’s teacher at St Columba’s, has been impressed with his motivation and dedication to his work.
“I was really impressed with the way he surveyed his local street to deal with a local issue and it’s great that he can put all his learning into a local issue and something that he is passionate about and people in his street are passionate about too.
“He’s been so self-directed and motivated to solve this problem and to actually do something good for the local community.
“We’re actually going to send it off to the local council and see what they have to say about it.”
Kate has also noticed Kai’s growing confidence since participating in the Virtual Academy.
“He has been able to apply his confidence to getting in and solving the problem himself, his self-direction, his organisational skills and his ability to contact people to assist him in his learning if he needs to, so emailing off to other educators or myself if he needs to solve a problem or he needs assistance.
“He has been taking ownership of his learning and finding ways to improve on his own.”