Posted by The Editor
As reported in the Whyalla News, Cummins Area School won the Whyalla Rotary Club Science and Engineering Challenge for the fourth time in a row with a score of 1350. Pictured from left to right are Rotary President Keith Sichler, students Arila O'Brian and Mitchell Laube, and Rotary District 9500 Governor Jane Owens.

Whyalla played host to the exciting Rotary Science and Engineering Challenge on Wednesday, with nearly 200 Year 9 and 10 students from around the region attending to put their minds to work.
 
Cummins Area School emerged victorious for the fourth time in a row, boasting an impressive score of 1350, while Navigator College (Port Lincoln) were the runners-up.
 
Whyalla High School and Samaritan College students battled hard, finishing in seventh and sixth place respectively.
Other participating schools included Port Lincoln High School, St Joseph's School (Port Lincoln) and Tumby Bay High School.

 

 
Students participating were tasked with working together to complete a number of Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering (STEM) challenges, including:
 
  • The Bridge - designing and constructing a model bridge from a fixed quantity of balsa, cardboard, wooden sticks, plastic sticks, masking tape and paper to withstand an aluminum trolley with weights on top
  • Mission to Mars - building a suspension system for a simple Mars buggy that will allow a load to be safely conveyed across the undulating Mars surface. 
  • Confounding Communications - designing an efficient code to send messages along fibre optic rods using pulses of coloured light. 
  • ElectraCITY - making a profit by providing electricity to as much of the city's infrastructure as possible at the lowest possible cost.
  • Grasping at Straws - designing the fingers and thumb for a bionic hand. 
  • Flatpack - designing and building a table and two chairs for a new range of furniture.
  • Helter Skelter Shelter - building an earthquake-proof apartment block using only a small amount of commonly available materials.
  • Stringways - developing a high -speed railway network to connect new cities and towns.
University of South Australia Regional Engineering Coordinator Shivvaan Sathasilvam said the challenge was an opportunity for students to apply STEM outside the classroom.
"There's an essence of competition between the schools, there's a lot of school pride. They get to apply the knowledge they have from the classroom to practical activities," he said.
On Thursday Whyalla also hosted the Discovery Challenge, a form of the Science and Engineering Challenge for students in Years 6 and 7 - and the only one happening in the state.
Rotary Club of Whyalla President Keith Sichler said it was important to foster an interest in science and technology for students at a very early age.
"It's great to see the excitement on the kids' faces and the creativity they bring with them. There's a 100 different ways of completing these challenges, and they come up with 100 new ways of looking at it.
"We're trying to encourage that creativity and thinking outside the box."
 
Rotary District Governor Jane Owens said the bridge challenge was 'really exciting' to watch.
"Seeing how strong the bridges they build can be is great, it's amazing what these students can accomplish with limited resources," she said. Samaritan College student Macy Bourgham said she enjoyed working with her classmates to combine their ideas and achieve a common goal. "It's a great way of meeting students from other schools and seeing what they are learning about STEM," she said.
"It's good to get out of the classroom and try something new not in a classroom setting."
Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin said council supported the event through its community grants scheme.
"Council is very happy to support events such as this because it fosters STEM learning outcomes which are so important for our city," she said.
This year's Science and Engineering Challenge saw the trend of rising female participation continue, with 104 girls and 92 boys attending.
  
 
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