STUDENTS at schools across the region have put their heads together to take part in a challenge, and come up with creative concepts designed to bring the community closer, at a time when it's more important than ever.
Inspiration came from all different places, but resulted in a stellar outcome for four teams from Tamworth Public School, who are through to the semi finals of the state-wide Game Changer Challenge 2020.
This year's theme asked kids to come up with a way technology could help bring the community closer.
Tamworth Public School student Azkah Fawaz and her crew of creators came up with a smartwatch designed to instantly translate languages, to make it easier for families to fit in when they move to Australia.
Azkah, who moved to the country speaking mainly Tamil, said the watch would have "100 per cent" helped her to communicate with her friends in the playground.
"We chose to go with that design because I related to it and I know there's definitely going to be other kids out there in my situation," she said.
"I didn't even think we'd make it through [to the semis] because there were so many schools competing in the region and I was just so thrilled and excited when we did."
The annual competition is run by the NSW Department of Education and attracted hundreds of entries from high schools and primary schools across the state.
The challenge is designed to promote practical problem solving by thinking about, and showing empathy for, people who may be facing issues in their lives.
Tamworth Public School's opportunity class teacher Hannah McKerrow said the task was interesting for her students.
"The kids had to go backwards and think about what the problems are that might stop us coming together as a community and from there, brainstorm solutions to fix it, so it's all about design based learning to solve a problem with empathy," she said.
"The kids learnt to compromise as a group, take on ideas, work together as a team ... I was really proud of them."
The groups had to create a problem statement, work on a solution, create a product, test it, and then film a one minute video pitch.
Apart from Azkah's team, three other groups from the opportunity class also made it to the regional semi finals.
One of the ideas was for a 'Technoframe', where family members of people living in care and isolated during COVID-19 could upload photos and family videos directly to an electronic photo frame in real time.
Captions would be available for people who might have dementia, and subtitles for the hard of hearing.
Another successful team went for app design, where kids could use 'Hobby Fun' software to connect with one another to talk about their hobbies and post photos about what they're up to.
A second smartwatch also made the cut, with the concept being a small and unobtrusive device that could help people who are deaf to have conversations with their peers.
Gunnedah South Public School also has a team destined for the semis.
The teams will face off and the winners will go through to a virtual grand final later this year.