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 a Gunnedah South Public School (GSPS) team, 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.
The team's coordinator Marianne Pankhurst said she was proud of her students for their work.
The GSPS group created a collection of technological devices called 'Bind'. It's made up of an app, and electronic noticeboard and a robot called 'Bind Bot'.
"The app advertises business and local events, the electronic noticeboard can be voice activated, translates languages, it also signs and displays subtitles, it provides directs and recommendations to local attractions, its broadcasts warnings and can be used to access emergency services," Ms Pankhurst said.
"Bind Bot is also voice activated and it was designed to accommodate less mobile people and nursing homes."
And, the plan would be for it all to be powered by solar.
Ms Pankhurst said getting into the semi finals was a great effort.
"I'm really excited for the students to be chosen from hundreds of entries," she said.
"I'm proud of the 'Bind' idea that they presented in the submission and the fact that they considered every person living in our community."
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.
Across the pond, four teams and ideas from Tamworth Public School students also made the semi finals.
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."
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.
The teams from across the region will face off in the semi finals and the winners will go through to a virtual grand final later this year.