Can we work better with nature?

This is the question that Year 6 student from St Joseph’s Primary School, Merewether, Jack Webber, has created an innovative and eco-friendly answer to with his Virtual Academy project.

The Virtual Academy is a program run as part of the Catholic Schools Office Gifted Education K-12 Strategy, which commits to providing gifted students with learning opportunities to realise their potential.

When asked to think about “can we work better with nature?” Jack wanted to use his project to show that you can create environmentally friendly buildings that are also aesthetically pleasing.

Choosing to create his designs in Tokyo, Japan, Jack soon realised that it would be better to figure out how to renovate existing buildings rather than create new ones.

“I loved the idea of designing a new building but decided rather to renovate one because building from scratch would actually produce more carbon dioxide than just renovating one,” said Jack.

Researching existing designs and taking inspiration from his father’s architectural work and passion for environmental sustainability, Jack decided to give existing buildings a bit of a green boost.

“I eventually settled on creating a green roof crossed with a park, with vines crawling down the sides of the building,” explained Jack.

“The idea for the greenery came from the need to produce as much oxygen from the area as possible.

“The inspiration for the green roofs and vines came from seeing them around locally, internationally and on the news. I thought they looked very nice and were very efficient.

“The inspiration to then turn it into a park was from examples shown of existing buildings that had special features on the roof, like a garden or a swimming pool.

“It helped me think of ways to turn it into a multi-purpose space for the use of an office building, rather than it just being wasted space.”

During his time in the Academy, Jack has enjoyed having freedom and choice with his work.

“I loved being able to choose creating my project on a local or global scale and then developing our own ideas guided by the questions given,” said Jack.

“It gave us the freedom to work with our own ideas, not something on just one subject where we all have pretty much the same presentation. 

“I loved the challenge of the questions we were asked. I loved all of it!”

Jack’s teacher, Holly Gralton, has also seen how Jack is using his new learning techniques in the classroom.

“Jack is a dedicated learner who goes above and beyond in all tasks,” said Holly.

“He particularly enjoys investigative learning and I have noticed Jack use a very similar approach to his class projects as he does for research in the Virtual Academy.

“He is always looking for the cause and effect and researching a variety of factors to ensure his work is precise.

“Jack’s mum has made comment to me that he is enjoying school much more since being part of the Virtual Academy and is able to use his new skills across all Key Learning Areas.”

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