Australian First at St Christopher's

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
1 Feb 2018

Year 6 students from St Christopher's Primary Holsworthy

St Christopher's Catholic Primary Holsworthy has become the first primary school in Australia - and one of only two schools in NSW - to learn in an environmentally sustainable demountable classroom.

The Hivve education ecosystem is equipped with solar panels and monitoring software that allows students and teachers to measure the amount of solar power the building generates and uses, along with factors including air quality and temperature.

Federal Minister for Energy and the Environment Josh Frydenberg visited Year 6 students in their new classroom this week to talk about the one-year pilot of the building.

He noted the solar panels on the roof of the classroom currently produce enough energy to power it and two others. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has funded the project in partnership with Hivve, the company responsible for the classroom's design and construction.

"This is a really interesting national trial," Mr Frydenberg said.

"We are watching really carefully to see what is happening at the school - what the temperature is in the room, how much power is being generated by the sun on any particular day.

"I hope you enjoy this new learning environment. It's a wonderfully clean, light, fresh classroom. It's a credit to your school for embracing this new technology."

Federal Minister for Energy and the Environment Josh Frydenberg at St Christopher's

Principal Tony Boyd said the school was excited to use the building, which would provide opportunities for authentic learning in Science and was unlike a typical demountable classroom.

"This is such a good quality building," he said.

"Where other demountables are fairly basic, this is a very comfortable classroom to be in.

"We are going to be able to use the monitoring of the energy use and air quality for students to reflect on during our Science unit on sustainability.

"The students being able to examine the data will make those units about sustainability and the environment more real because it will be their own environment they are looking at."

An impromptu chat with the minister about the future careers the Year 6 students are considering uncovered many that were civic-minded including architecture, structural engineering and electric car design.

Mr Boyd said coding classes would also be introduced across the school in 2018. This will give students yet another opportunity to embrace technology in their learning.

Josh Frydenberg in the classroom talking to students

Sydney Catholic Schools' Head of Planning and Facilities Peter Clarke said the pilot would help to promote better energy management practices across the board.

"It is a springboard for us to revisit some of the principles we need to apply to ensure our students have a deeper understanding [of sustainability], that our teachers are supported in that, and that our environments suit the expectations of contemporary parenting," he said.