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Science and Engineering champs two years running!

Saint Stephen’s College has won the renowned regional section of the Newcastle University Science and Engineering Challenge for the second year running.

Head of Science, Iain Taylor, said the group of 32 Year 9 and 10 students showed great skill in completing complex, problem-solving tasks that included designing bionic hands to sign language, towers to withstand an earthquake, weight-bearing bridges, and message encoders.

“At Saint Stephen’s College our Year 10 Team Projects subject encourages and challenges our students to problem solve, which will make them well positioned to meet growth skills areas of problem solving, and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM),” said Mr Taylor.

“Throughout the year they have been honing these skills through classroom activities in the Team Projects subject. This has proved invaluable for the competition. Students discussed what had worked well and what they would have done differently. And, they mentored the Year 9 teams, using the skills they had been developing in class.”

“This type of competition is ideal as it allows students to become critical thinkers, problem solvers and to work well in large and small teams.”

Mr Taylor said the students were broken into eight groups of four with each group tasked with completing practical engineering and problem solving based activities.

Activities completed on the day of competition included:

  • designing towers with optimised mass and structural stability to carry weights and be tested on an earthquake simulator
  • designing a bionic hand to complete sign language symbols and pick up items
  • encoding a message
  • designing a bridge – one group built a 70-gram bridge of balsa wood, cardboard and sticky tape which held an impressive 800-gram track and a 3.2 kg trolley

Saint Stephen’s placed first in the competition with 1190 points, with second place at 1008 points.

“The margin of victory and calibre of opposition this year makes this victory particularly special. I am extremely proud of the achievements of the College in this competition and we hope to continue this success into the future,” said Mr Taylor

“We now wait in anticipation to see if the overall score will see us qualify for the state finals held later in the year.”