SUSTAINABILITY: St Joseph’s Primary School teacher Nikki Wagner with (from left) Cohen Ducan, Layla Davidson and Heath Tyler. In front is the Chicken Penthouse and a school model, created with the help of SCU mentors.
SUSTAINABILITY: St Joseph’s Primary School teacher Nikki Wagner with (from left) Cohen Ducan, Layla Davidson and Heath Tyler. In front is the Chicken Penthouse and a school model, created with the help of SCU mentors. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

6-year-old boy named keynote speaker for uni conference

THERE are not too many university conferences that boast having a six-year-old as their keynote speaker.

But SCU's Our Voice Sustainability Conference will feature Noah Dingle, 6, from Victoria talking about his involvement with the campaign to save the endangered sunbears in Borneo.

The conference is all about getting young people to think critically about sustainability, share ideas and ways to shape their future.

Noah was selected as keynote speaker because he is so passionate and shows it is never too early to connect with the world and share enthusiasm for nature.

I think one of the big things is that we underestimate children - they are so full of ideas and have a different way of looking at things

- Conference coordinator Dr Marianne Logan

The conference will see students from 19 schools across the Northern Rivers, aged from 3 to 16, taking part.

Over the past months, students from St Joseph's Primary in Alstonville and Bexhill Public School have been working with SCU education students to devise, test and build sustainability projects which will be presented at the conference.

>> The Our Voice Sustainability Conference will be held on October 31 from 10am - 2.10pm at SCU's Lismore campus.

These include a solar-powered fast food restaurant with a pen of free-range chooks laying eggs and a barn of dairy cows maintaining the flow of chocolate milk.

Co-ordinator Dr Marianne Logan from the School of Education said kids had a unique way of looking at the world, with an innate ability to question, explore and create.

"I think one of the big things is that we underestimate children - they are so full of ideas and have a different way of looking at things," she said.

"The whole point of the project and the conference is to create an awareness that one person can initiate change and by working together sustainability is achievable."

SCU education student Paula Copeland helped a group of Bexhill Public School students design and build a suspended, self-watering garden made entirely from recycled materials.

Ms Copeland said it was amazing to see the kids "make real-life connections to what they already knew and what they were learning".

"Our aim was to teach the kids to think sustainably using scientific and creative thinking," she said.



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