Students go ‘Back to the Future’ at UWS

Bede Polding students build a tower

High school students from Western Sydney have been invited to the University of Western Sydney to take part in the Science and Engineering Challenge on Friday 29 June, 2012.

The event, which is presented by the University of Newcastle in cooperation with UWS and the Rotary Clubs of District 9680, aims to provide Year 9 and 10 students with a positive experience of science and engineering.

Each school team will be divided into 8 groups of 3 to 4 students and all groups will cycle through the 8 different activities, such as:

* Eco Habitech: students will build an Eco-Habitech model home to withstand fierce tests while still being ecologically friendly. The value of materials and their ‘carbon cost’ will also be counted;

Penrith High School students build an eco-friendly model home

* Gold fever: using balsa, pins, tape, paddle pop sticks, etc., students will build a small bridge. Points will be awarded for strength and load-carrying capacity (tested with dynamic loads);

* Back to the Future II: students will be provided with a vehicle on which they attach a propeller or fan to drive the vehicle along rails. The students will have to develop their own fan by experimenting with diameter and pitch; and

* Helter Skelter Shelter: students will construct a tall earthquake-proof tower using only basic materials, sound engineering principles, and ingenuity. At the end of the session the towers are put to the test on an earthquake simulator.

Students will be awarded points for each activity and the school with the most cumulative points at the end of the day will be announced as the winner and will have the opportunity to advance to the Science and Engineering State Competition – and possibly even the Nationals.

Penrith High School students test their bridge

Dr Upul Gunawardana, from the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics at UWS, says it is important to engage with high school students early in order to get them thinking about a future career in science or engineering.

“Year 9 and 10 are an important time in a student’s life as the choices they make about subject selection at the end of Year 10 will determine the degrees they will be able to choose if they go to university,” says Dr Gunawardana.

“This holds especially true to students who want to study science or engineering at university. Senior physics, chemistry and biology courses in Year 11 and 12 are a solid foundation and a prerequisite for being able to choose a science-related field of study at tertiary level.”

On the day, 6 schools across Western Sydney will be participating in the challenge on the UWS Kingswood campus. The schools are:

* Bede Polding College
* Blaxland High School
* Catherine McAuley Westmead
* Mitchell High School
* Penrith High School
* Xavier College

The Science and Engineering Challenge 2012 is funded by the Government’s ‘2012 Inspiring Australia - Unlocking Australia's Potential’ initiative.

WHAT: Science and Engineering Challenge 2012
WHEN: Friday 29 June, 2012, starting at 9.15am until 2.30pm
WHERE: Building P, UWS Kingswood campus


28 June 2012

Contact: Kristy Gleeson, Media Officer