Brilliant Futures UQ STEM workshops

On Saturday 20 October, a group of very enthusiastic Brilliant Futures students completing their Investigative Year embarked on an excursion to the University of Queensland (UQ), St Lucia campus for a jam packed day full of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workshops. The day was filled with three different STEM workshops encompassing aspects of developing skills in scientific investigations by inquiry learning, critical thinking and collaborative group work.

Firstly, the students were treated to an engaging Technology and Design workshop led by senior lecturer and tutors at UQ. In this workshop, students used a ‘Makey-Makey’, “an invention kit for the 21st century” where they combined the realms of art with Engineering. They embraced their creative and innovative sides, by designing computer game touchpads using everyday objects such as playdoh and aluminium foil.

The students then completed a sustainable bridge workshop, facilitated by final year Engineering students from the UQ Engineering faculty. After being briefed with a presentation on what encompasses Engineering, Brilliant Futures students had to work in teams to build a bridge out of basic materials of only paddle pop sticks, elastic bands, straws and bulldog clips.

A scenario was set – ‘build a sustainable bridge in order to link two remote islands for the purpose of trading’. The students were given clear instructions, goals and criteria. Students’ bridges had to be considered sustainable (environmentally, socially and economically), creative and strong.

Students worked productively and efficiently in a set time to create a design, chose appropriate materials, and test their bridge design. The winning groups design consisted of a bridge that was at least 30cm long linking the islands together, allowed a truck to drive across to transport materials, and held the most amount of weight.

Much fun was had by all!

Luke and Tara share their personal reflections on the final workshop on Algorithmic Thinking and Ozbots:

I enjoyed the STEM Experience Day because it was mentally stimulating. It was an educational experience, where we learnt about Ozbots and how to manipulate them into doing tasks. The Ozobots interpreted blue green and red marks, the primary colours of light, on pieces of paper to achieve different tasks, like turning left or right. These robots followed a black line that was also traced on the paper. Once students achieved simple tasks, they worked on more challenging problems. Apart from the usual activities, there was also the positive of meeting friends and communicating with them.
Luke – Investigative Year Brilliant Futures student

At the STEM Experience Day, our focus was Ozbots. We first drew black lines for our Ozbots to follow, after which we were given sheets with coloured dots that our Ozbots responded to. As our Ozbots followed the instructions, we attempted to work out what the signals meant and were given the sheets with the code on it afterwards. Several challenges were set, in which we attempted to use code to instruct our Ozbots to move from the house to the shop or crossing icons. At the end of the workshop, we watched videos demonstrating unusual robots such as the jumping ‘Sand Flea’. I enjoyed problem solving and learning new skills most, however all aspects of the workshop were engaging.
Tara – Investigative Year Brilliant Futures student

Mrs Laura Millar
Biology and Sports, Exercise and Health Science Faculty