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Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Digital and Design Technologies: Promoting Student Agency Through Empathy-STEAM Projects

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Sunday, November 29, 8:00–9:00 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Ian Fairhurst  
Sue Floro  
Matthew Hawke  

Discover how students become responsive to their communities, leverage technologies, act responsibly and creatively to solve real-world issues. Learn how E-STEAM projects empower students to recognize their ability to facilitate change. Explore with Australian students and see how empathy-fueled designs target issues that align with the UNSDG's.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
Topic: Project-, problem- & challenge-based learning
Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: Social studies, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
Creative Communicator
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Inspired learners exercise agency.

The presentation will allow participants to explore how upper primary students in an Australian independent school have designed empathy-fuelled innovations to solve current world issues.

As the school’s technology model is a 1 to 1 device scenario with iPads, students are exposed to a variety of emerging technologies in Years K-4. In this session, students will explain and demonstrate how their teachers have provided them with less scaffolding and more options to present their creative innovations.

Partake in a student-led masterclass where students guide participants through a four-step Empathy STEAM project process, where attendees learn about specific emerging technologies, the importance of Empathy STEAM projects and the advantage of promoting student agency in the classroom.

In this workshop, discover how students in Australia have used the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to investigate real world issues. Listen to students share how they were able to think of an empathetic response and consider a possible solution using technology.


In this hands-on Creator Lab workshop, students will demonstrate to participants how they were able to utilise an emerging technology to adapt, modify or create an inclusive or sustainable solution. Some examples of applications students may use in their innovations are;

Introduction to Task - 5 minutes
Purpose of the Task/ Connection to UNSDGs - 10 minutes
Prototypes Using Microbits And Other Electronic Components 15 minutes
3D Design And Modelling With TINKER CAD 15 minutes
Block Based Coding With Microsoft Make Code. 15 minutes
Real World Modelling Using CoSpaces 15 minutes
Modify Existing 3D Models from Thingiverse 15 minutes

Supporting research

Murdoch, K. (2015). The Power of Inquiry : Teaching and Learning with Curiosity, Creativity and Purpose in the Contemporary Classroom. Seastar Education Consulting.

Puentedura, R. (2014). SAMR and TPCK: A Hands-On Approach to Classroom Practice. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share.

Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning, Cognitive Science. 12, 257-285.

Wilson, T. (n.d). No Longer Science Fiction, AI and Robotics are Transforming Healthcare. California Biomedical Research Association.


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Ian Fairhurst, Knox Grammar Preparatory School

Ian Fairhurst has been in Educational Technology roles for 15 years and has a passion for embedding authentic, globally focussed, learning opportunities through STEM education and establishing an active ‘maker culture’ within schools. As Team Leader of Technology Integration at Knox Grammar Preparatory School, he is currently responsible for leading and supporting the K-6 community in digital and design technologies. Ian also facilitates a Makerspace with the mantra that ‘anything is possible with technology and a creative mindset’. The students are encouraged to focus their ideas on authentic projects which can make a positive difference at a local or global community level.

Sue Floro, Knox Grammar School
Matthew Hawke, Knox Grammar School

Matthew Hawke is a passionate K-6 educator who aims to always engage, challenge, and inspire his students. In his classroom, students learn to recognise the power that they, as an individual, to enact change in the world.

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