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.
This is Joshua’s first year in the Academy and his project topic of choice was the global issue of pollution from cement factories.
“Josh was really focusing on how we can reduce that pollution,” said Kate Buchanan Willis, a teacher at St Columba’s.
“He tapped into the fact that buildings are made of concrete and began thinking about how we can make buildings without concrete.”
Joshua’s creative and forward thinking solution was inspired by a certain blockbuster fantasy adventure series.
“My solution is called Hobbit Holes,” said Joshua.
“Cement factories all over the world release pollution and cement is put on the outside of houses a lot, but it’s not on hobbit holes because grass is.
“People would live underground in hills and because it is underground, the warming and cooling will come naturally so you won’t need to use as much energy.
“Also, deforestation will be less of a problem because, even if you need to clear some of the land, grass grows on top of the hobbit holes when it’s finished.”
Joshua’s hobbit holes would be built on an island in Lagos Lagoon called Lekki Phase 1. The town would be called Hobbin and would provide people with a calm and quiet place to live with plenty of space, all while getting an original movie experience!
Some of Joshua’s favourite parts of the Academy have been the new skills he has learnt, not just around his topic, but also the skills he needed to complete the project, as well as the ability to work independently.
“One of my favourite parts of the project was actually putting together the PowerPoint presentation and discovering all the things I didn’t know before about PowerPoint,” said Joshua.
“It also teaches you to be more independent, which will be good in high school.
“It’s good being able to set your own work because you don’t have teachers telling you exactly what to do, you can do whatever you want, you don’t have to write on a particular topic.”
Kate has noticed an increase in confidence since Joshua’s participation in the academy.
“He’s been so enthusiastic and motivated about getting in and doing something different and it’s really been a great opportunity for him to thrive in his environment and take some confidence in communicating it to his class.
“Sharing something like that with Year 6 is a massive thing for somebody in Year 5; to stand up and share that with children older than him, he was just so confident and has really taken it on.”
Amy Eccleston, HSIE Coordinator St Pius X High School, Adamstown was also impressed by Joshua’s pioneering solution.
“Congratulations on presenting an innovative and very modern idea to an extremely big world problem,” said Amy during her feedback to Joshua’s presentation.
“I hope you continue to come up with creative ideas that challenge our ideas of what life on this planet should look like.”