Students challenged to test their engineering knowledge

Cobar High School Year 9 students Bree Martin and Rubybelle Stingemore and Year 10 student Thomas Bradley’s creation ‘Rhonda’ was in the running to take out the Mars
Rover challenge at the Outback Science & Engineering Challenge yesterday at the Cobar Youth & Fitness Centre. Constructed from plastic parts, wheels, screws, washers, rubber bands, ‘Rhonda’ recorded a best time of 20 seconds over 63cm carrying a load.

Students from eight schools around the western region converged on the Cobar Youth & Fitness Centre yesterday to take part in the 15th annual Outback Science and Engineering Challenge.

The challenge is an outreach program conducted by the University of Newcastle and involves students engaging in a number of fun interactive science, technology and engineering activities.

The program aims to encourage Year 9 and 10 students to study science at HSC level.

Over the 16 years since the inception of the program, research from the Board of Studies has found that it is working with a higher percentage of students enrolling each year in science-based subjects in Year 11 and 12.

This has had a flow-on effect with more students enrolling in science and engineering courses at universities, thereby increasing the number of young people in the skill areas of the nature of engineers, scientists and the field of technology.

Students from Cobar, Broken Hill, Brewarrina, Nyngan, Bourke, Lake Cargelligo, Hillston and Walgett this year participated in activities ranging from problem solving to design and build.

The challenge also aims to introduce the underlying principles related to technology and gives students a deeper perspective of an area they perhaps had not previously appreciated.

This year’s event was conducted in partnership with the NSW Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer in cooperation with Cobar Shire Council, the Rotary Club of Cobar, CSA, Endeavor, Peak and Tritton mines, AusIMM and Epiroc.

Over the next five years, employment is predicted to increase in technical services, professional and scientific careers by 14 per cent.

With STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates in Australia making up only 18 per cent of the entire graduate cohort, the Science and Engineering Challenge inspires students to work in STEM careers.

The challenge also provides students with a different STEM experience that is very different to their classrooms.