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Rosedale girls are national champs for reinventing a more sustainable Sarnia on Minecraft

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Cathy Dobson

An all-girl team of Grade 6 and 7 students from Rosedale School has placed first in Canada in a contest that required them to design a better Sarnia, create it using Minecraft, and narrate a four-minute video being shared with the world.

The challenge put to them was to study global sustainability goals as set out by the United Nations and envision what their own community would look like if it met those goals.

They turned to many sources for help with their research, says Grade 7 teacher Melissa Dent who recruited members of her Girls Who Game club for the national competition. One resource was city councillor Brian White who sat down with the team to talk about what a more sustainable Sarnia would look like.

“It gives me great hope to know that Girls Who Game from Rosedale Public School, along with so many other students across Canada, are as enthusiastic as they are creative in working towards a sustainable future,” said White. “We know that cities account for over 70% of global Co2 emissions.”

The competition attracted 50 submissions from across the country and was open to public school students from kindergarten to Grade 12. 

In submitting the top entry, the Rosedale team won $10,000 in new technology for their school including five Chromebooks, a 70-inch multi touch screen, and various other devices and software.

“It’s amazing,” said Dent who worked on the project since last November with the team and Grade 6 teacher Stephanie Clarke.

“The girls were really passionate about wanting to make change but I think what gave them the edge is that they collaborated well together,” Dent said.

“Their faces just lit up when they heard they won.”

This was no small project. The students’ video highlights several elements of the Sarnia community that already contribute to sustainability and adds more elements they want to see if the future.

An existing asset is the Bluewater Angler fish hatchery in adjacent Point Edward. Instead of reading about it, or even touring the hatchery, the students asked the anglers to bring salmon eggs to the school and set up a tank where they watched the eggs hatch, the fish grow and ultimately released 30 of them into a nearby creek.

“That stood out for me,” said Dent. 

The team also spent time learning about indigenous views and connection to the earth, then incorporated that respect for the environment into their research.

“Really, this is an effort to share how students are learning in new and innovative ways,” said Robert Martellacci, president of Toronto-based Mindshare Learning, which started the Canadian Schools of the Future contest 15 years ago.

“By nurturing skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity, we’re helping to create real-world problem solvers who are prepared to face any challenge that comes their way.”

The students’ award-winning video can be accessed at:


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