STEM challenges, strategic thinking, and a spectacular day out!
Our Year 10 Physics excursion to participate in the nationwide Science and Engineering Challenge on Thursday 16 June, was an awesome hands-on experience which encouraged all of our interests in real-world physics.
After arriving at our destination and splitting into our eight activity groups, we put our brains to the test on the first activities of the day. These were: ElectraCITY, Turbine, Grasping at Straws, Confounding Communications, Return to Mars, Bridge, and Helter Skelter Shelter (my group's activity). Helter Skelter Shelter challenged students to construct a model building which could withstand an 'earthquake' – using only eight straws and two pieces of paper.
Shelters were tested using weights and subjected to an 'earthquake' generated by the seismic simulator machine. Our simple, cylindrical design held up well under pressure (carrying all of the weights provided!), proving that sometimes, simplicity is best when it comes to engineering.
After a lunch break in which we divulged the STEM tricks of the trade, the activities were swapped over for a fresh challenge. This time, my group was on Stringways – a optimisation/logistics puzzle where we had to become city designers. The goal in each of a series of tasks was to connect the 'cities' (pins) with 'railways' (string) using the least amount of string possible. My group and I all thoroughly enjoyed this activity and felt that it showed us how crucial it is to balance efficiency with time constraint in engineering.
Afterwards, it was time for the grand finale: the live testing of bridges, which teams had been working on all day. Using just flimsy planks of wood, masking tape, and string, the challenge was to create a bridge which could support a trolley of the greatest mass (up to 9 kg).
All QAHS students performed admirably at the SciEng challenge (taking out 2nd place overall!) and certainly had a 'bridgeload' of fun.
Year 10 Student