Students get set to face off

Fraser Coast students will put their minds to the test when they compete in this year’s USQ Fraser Coast Science and Engineering Challenge this Tuesday (May 7) at the Hervey Bay PCYC.

Schools will be faced with activities such as:

  • Gold Fever – Building a small bridge from balsa, pins, tape, paddle pop sticks etc. Points are awarded for strength and load-carrying capacity (tested with dynamic loads).
  • Catapult  – This activity involves constructing a catapult from timber dowel, packing tape and rubber bands. Points are awarded for the catapult’s ability to propel a tennis ball over distance and hit a target.
  • Hover Frenzy – Students must construct a small hovercraft from motorised propulsion units, Styrofoam trays, balsa, plastic and tape. Scoring is based on manoeuvrability, speed, and ability to negotiate obstacles.
  • Helter Skelter Shelter – Students 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

USQ Fraser Coast event co-ordinator Stephanie Bayley said Hervey Bay High School, Xavier Catholic College, Fraser Coast Anglican College, St Mary’s Catholic College, Maryborough State High School, Aldridge State High School and Riverside Christian College would compete for the regional title on Tuesday.

The challenge will get underway at 9.30am and finish at about 2.45pm with the spectacular testing of the bridges and celebrity challenge.

Ms Bayley said that in addition to the program of past challenges, this year USQ Fraser Coast Executive Manager Brett Langabeer and Mayor Gerard O’Connell would attempt to build a bridge using the same materials as the students. Their handicap will be that they only have half the time the students have to design, construct and test the bridge. Testing will start at 2pm.

“The Fraser Coast’s winning school last year, Aldridge State High School, did very well and has set a high standard for this year’s regional event. All activities are designed to show students the practical side of careers in science and engineering.”

The Challenge runs in every state and territory of Australia. In 2012 over 20,000 students participated nationally.

Local volunteers from the combined Rotary clubs of Hervey Bay along with USQ staff support the challenge and, like the students, look forward to being involved. The challenge is a fun event that aims to give the participating students a more realistic view of what a career in technology would involve.

Mr Langabeer said: “We need to inspire young people and show them that creativity is an integral part of any career in science and engineering.  Scientists and engineers investigate and solve problems and, whilst theory is a vital part of this work, it is just as important to be innovative and creative.”

Ms Bayley and Mr Langabeer wish to thank all those involved in the challenge in particular the University of Newcastle and the combined Rotary Clubs of Hervey Bay.

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and supported locally by Engineers Australia, Tony McVey Pty Ltd, Wide Bay Water, Fraser Coast Regional Council, and Opus.

Caption: Aldridge State High School edged out Xavier Catholic College and Riverside Christian College last year to win the 2012 Science and Engineering Challenge Fraser Coast title. Pictured front left is Aldridge State High School Head of Science Department Iain Carson. Photo: JOCELYN WATTS
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