SHOOT FOR THE STARS: Former St Philip’s Christian College pupil Michael Ireland was back in town last night to receive an innovation award for discovering a new planet in 2011. Picture: Ryan OslandST Philip’s Christian College at Waratah has kicked off its inaugural Festival of Crazy Ideas by recognising former student and astrophysicist Michael Ireland’s achievement discovering a new planet.
Festival chair and business studies teacher Kathryn O’Rourke approached the school more than a year ago with her idea for a symposium to encourage student inspiration, creativity and innovation, similar to events including Vivid and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
“I thought, why couldn’t we do this for young people?,” she said.
“They are at a point in their life where they could really benefit from being encouraged in their creativity and having access to mentors and people who have been successful in their field, to give them a sense of what they could do too.”
The school launched the event last night, with awards for staff, students, parents and alumni, including astrophysicist Dr Ireland, who graduated in 1995 and in 2011 discovered planet LkCa15b.
“I remember with great fondness and gratitude the mentorship of my physics teacher at St Philip’s, Graeme Dunn, whose passion inspired me to follow my own crazy ideas and aspirations,” he said.
Celebrity chef Alastair McLeod compered the event, which also included an art exhibition, screening of finalists in the school’s filmmaking competition, live music, a Varley electric super car and an appearance by director of The Newcastle Shootout Kristi Street.
Sheldon Perry from Tap Dogs also performed alongside his nephew Hudson Coates, a year 11 student at the school.
Students will today attend some of 60 workshops given by artists, musicians, journalists, chefs, robotics engineers, mathematicians, social justice advocates, Broadway actor Bruce Kuhn and a former Disney cartoonist.