27 June 2012
Upper Hunter students step up to science and engineering challenge
Pictured left to right: Muswellbrook High School students Megan Dorian, Luke Woodward, Samantha Elphick, Aaron Carey and Josh Daniel.
More than 600 primary and secondary students from the Upper Hunter region have undertaken a range of hands on activities to help them explore the possibilities science and engineering can offer in the annual Coal & Allied Upper Hunter Science and Engineering Challenge held in Muswellbrook recently.
The three-day challenge, presented by the University of Newcastle in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Muswellbrook, and Coal & Allied, is a set of fun and competitive activities designed to increase students' knowledge and understanding about science, engineering, and technology principles.
2012 marks the 11th year that the Challenge has been supported by the Coal & Allied Community Development Fund within the Upper Hunter.
In the Challenge, students are split into teams and choose from a variety of creative activities to solve.
The University of Newcastle Team Leader Dr Terry Burns said the activities ranged from designing and flying Styrofoam gliders, through to constructing model earthquake-proof towers, to wiring up the power supply for a virtual city.
"The Challenge is very popular amongst students because it gets them working with each other to compete against other schools and solve science or engineering related problems," Dr Burns said.
"It's different to a classroom environment as the students have to work on creative projects that are designed to get them thinking outside the box."
Singleton High School Year Nine student Gracie Oldfield participated in an activity called 'Puff Puff Golf', which involved building a balloon-powered model car that was subsequently tested for its power and controllability.
"I'd like to study structural engineering so today has given me an opportunity to see what that occupation could be like and it has been a great learning experience," Gracie said.
Muswellbrook High School Year 10 student Samantha Elphick participated in an activity called 'Mission to Mars', which involved developing and testing a suspension system for a small model Mars explorer.
"This year's event has been really fun, testing knowledge I didn't know I had," Samantha said.
"I've also spent a day with friends making and creating really cool science projects."
Coal & Allied Principal Community Investment Stephen Sneddon said the Challenge is a great event for local students to develop team-based problem-solving, scientific, and practical skills and take a closer look at science and engineering as a potential career pathway after school.
"Since 2001, we have provided more than $172,000 to this flagship science and engineering event for local students," Mr Sneddon said.
"We're proud of this long term partnership as it forms part of our approach to help develop the skills capacity of the Upper Hunter so that we can continue building strong and sustainable communities where we operate."
Pictured left to right: Singleton High School students Gracie Oldfield, Koby Old, Nick Pierce and Libby Cotter.
About Coal & Allied
Coal & Allied has been part of the Hunter Valley community for more than 165 years and today manages three open cut coal mines. We aim to achieve shared value with members of the communities in which we operate. Our operations create not only economic value - but value for society by addressing communities' needs and challenges. In 2011 our operations employed more than 2500 employees and 1000 contractors, and spent more than $1.7 billion with more than 1300 businesses across NSW. To date our community development funds have invested more than $11 million into 100 NSW community projects and partnerships, of which $3.6 million was directed towards education initiatives, to build stronger, smarter and more sustainable communities around our operations.