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Year 6 Innovators Secure Double Victory in CESA STEM MAD Competition

A visionary group of Nazareth Year 6 students have left a lasting mark on the STEM education landscape, after their outstanding performance at the SA STEM MAD event. With their idea “The Sign Speaker” Lachlan, Alexander, Medhansh, and Maninder clinched not one, but two ms

first-place awards, proving that they’re not just shaping the future – they’re crafting it, one idea at a time!

STEM MAD, is a prestigious celebration of student learning, recognising initiatives that address real-world problems through STEM education and highlight the unique character of Catholic schools. Stemming from its origins in Melbourne, the event has grown to a national scale, attracting student teams from dioceses across Australia to participate in exhibiting their ideas and competing for excellence awards.

This year’s South Australian event took place at the Adelaide Convention Centre last Thursday, with STEM MAD National set to take place interstate in November.

The STEM MAD challenge calls students to develop an idea which ‘Makes a Difference’ (MAD) and requires them to navigate the Design Thinking Process to develop innovative solutions that promote quality education.

Unlike other schools where entries are crafted during class hours, Nazareth’s participation was an extension of the cocurricular lunchtime STEAM Club. Led by the dedicated guidance of Mrs Olivia Bordignon and Miss Jane Watson at the Findon Campus, this project thrived on the voluntary and passion-fuelled involvement of the STEAM Club students.

All the STEAM Club participants poured their creativity and efforts into developing incredible ideas and entries for the competition, but none more than Lachlan, Alexander, Medhansh, and Maninder (Year 6), who crafted ‘The Sign Speaker’ – a revolutionary device that translates sign language into spoken text. This innovative solution was born from their commitment to ensuring effective communication for all children, including those affected by aphasia and those who are unable to read sign language.

Lachlan, Alexander, Medhansh, and Maninder’s achievements at the SA event were remarkable – not only did they respectfully and kindly engage with students and staff from several schools, but they also emerged victorious in the competition. The group secured the People’s Choice award (voted by attendees) and were awarded first place in the Primary Category against eleven other remarkable applicants.

Speaking about their experience, Lachlan shared, “when we arrived at the event, we weren’t expecting to win the competition. We were all shocked when we found out we won.”

These thoughts were echoed by his teammate, Medhansh, who said, “Winning has made creating the project worth it.”

The teams’ accomplishments have brought a multitude of rewards, with Nazareth being granted a range of valuable resources, including a 3D printer, a year’s subscription to Makers Empire, Grok Academy resources, and more. Their success in the state-wide competition has also earned them the privilege of representing South Australia in the STEM MAD National competition.

Amidst celebrating their remarkable achievements, the students emphasised their passion for STEM education.

Alexander expressed his eagerness to continue in STEM education, saying  “I definitely want to continue my passion for STEM in high school and create more designs in the future.”

Medhansh agreed, sharing his interest in STEM pathways for high school, “When we have the opportunity to choose our own subjects, I hope to do science and engineering.”

The impact of this experience on the students extended beyond the competition itself, with Lachlan sharing, “Since completing the project, I have learned a lot about disability and people with special needs.”

The project has also left an impact on Mrs Bordignon and Miss Watson who have witnessed the meaningful growth and innovation sparked within the students.

“We are so proud of all the STEAM Club students, and particularly of Lachlan, Alexander, Medhansh, and Maninder’s achievements. These students have truly exemplified the spirit of innovation, compassion, and excellence that STEM education aims to promote,” said Mrs Bordignon.

With his own sense of pride, Medhansh beautifully encapsulated their achievement: “I feel very grateful and honoured that we were the first Nazareth group to win the competition. We made history at Nazareth!”

Their legacy will undoubtedly inspire future groups of students to pursue their passion for STEM and create meaningful change in the world.

Learn more about “The Sign Speaker” here:


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