Teenage science buffs catapult into contest

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Teenage science buffs catapult into contest


10 March 2014

Five hundred teenagers from 18 local schools will spend two days building bridges, catapults, space vehicles and earthquake-proof towers, in the annual Science and Engineering Challenge at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

USC Science and Engineering Outreach Coordinator Marina Fitzpatrick said the event would be at capacity, filling the Innovation Centre auditorium on Tuesday 11 March and Wednesday 12 March with Year 9 and 10 students.

“We’ve had so many schools wanting to participate that the challenge could almost run for three days this year,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“The students just love the activities and gain so much. They’re learning at the University, seeing some of the exciting applications of science and engineering.

“The winning school will become the regional entrant in the state final on 18 August, which USC is also delighted to be hosting this year for the first time.”

Competitions to be held tomorrow and Wednesday will include:

  • Building small bridges out of balsa, pins, tape and paddle pop sticks. Points are awarded for strength and load-carrying capacity. The finale is when students test their bridges with weights in a little cart, to see how much the bridges hold before snapping.
  • Constructing catapults from timber, packing tape and rubber bands. Points are awarded for the catapults’ ability to propel tennis balls over distance to hit targets.
  • ‘Mission to Mars’ is constructing vehicles to see how quickly they can transfer over a surface, using rubber bands for the suspension system.
  • ‘Helter skelter shelter’ is building earthquake-proof towers using basic materials and engineering principles, before testing them on an earthquake simulator.

The Challenge is presented by USC’s School of Science and Engineering in conjunction with the University of Newcastle, Rotary Club of Alexandra Headland and Education Queensland’s Science and Engineering Education Centre.

Julie Schomberg

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