Science and engineering skills put to the test

THE Tasmanian heats of the 2018 Science and Engineering Challenge kicked off in Hobart last month with about 1,600 year nine and 10 students showing off their skills.

Students were challenged to build a cost-effective bionic hand, power up a pretend city and design apartment towers that could withstand an earthquake.

They also created a catapult that launched a tennis ball, made a model water turbine, coded messages along optic fibre rods and developed transport networks that linked towns.

The Friends’ School, Taroona High School and Rose Bay High School won a challenge, each over three days.

Tasmanian state coordinator and University of Tasmania (UTAS) outreach and placement officer (Engineering) Susie Haley said she hoped the competition would inspire participants.

“By taking part in the Challenge, students saw that science and engineering involves creativity, innovation, problem-solving and team work,” she said.

“The program encourages students to consider a future career in science and engineering by studying subjects such as maths, biology, physics and chemistry (the enabling sciences) in years 11 and 12.

“In just a few weeks, registrations for 2018 were filled which shows the value and importance that Tasmanian schools are placing on this competition.

“This year, 110 volunteers supported the statewide leg, giving more than 2000 hours to ensure the Tasmanian Challenge was once again a success.

“Without the support from engineers, UTAS students, local businesses, Rotarians and other willing people, the Challenge could not continue.”

This year, there were six statewide heats with participation from 52 schools.

The annual competition is a national outreach program aimed at changing student perceptions towards both disciplines while fostering further engagement.

In Tasmania, the Science and Engineering Challenge is supported by UTAS, Rotary Clubs of Tasmania and the State Government.

Caption: Taroona High School staff and students at the 2018 Science and Engineering Challenge.