There are a number of science and engineering initiatives offered throughout the Hunter that Catholic schools in the diocese participate in. The practical hands-on activities involve principles of science, engineering and technology and aim to give students an understanding and appreciation of how science and engineering works, so they will consider a future career in the disciplines or consider studying Maths, Engineering, Physics and Chemistry at a senior level.
Many of the initiatives aim to address the skills shortage in science and engineering by inspiring students to start working with a minimum of introduction and theory. Students are also invited to explore scientific principles for themselves and in a group scenario, rather than being guided to a pre-determined answer. Science and engineering offers engaging and challenging opportunities to students and is a field Catholic schools are passionate about as the understanding of the value of teamwork is learnt and appreciated by all those involved.
The Science and Engineering Challenge – High School level
The Science and Engineering Challenge is an outreach program conducted nationally by the University of Newcastle. It is designed to inspire students to study science and engineering at a senior level.
Challenge Days are designed for Year 9 and 10 students, although younger students can be invited to attend. Students are involved in an exhilarating day competing against other schools in fun and engaging hands-on activities such as, designing an earthquake proof tower, building a hovercraft or bridge, providing electricity to a city or creating an environmentally friendly house. Typically eight schools of 32 students (256 students in total) compete in a Challenge Day. Points are awarded based on their performance and the school with the highest point score at the end of the day is the winner. Qualifying schools may go on to compete at a State Final, and eight winning schools from around Australia are invited to compete at a one-day National Final each year.
Visit the Science and Engineering Challenge website here.
Build ME a Future Days
Build ME a Future Days aim to foster interest and engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Year 7 and 8 students. The days are designed to bridge the gap between school and university, and to showcase how STEM careers can make a positive impact in the world.
Each day includes a selection of competitive, hands-on STEM challenges, as well as the opportunity to explore the University and some of the amazing things that happen there.
Discovery Days – Primary School Level
Just like the Science and Engineering Challenge for high school students, Discovery Days aims to provide meaningful, hands-on experiences which challenge young people to make a difference in the world by choosing a career in science and engineering.
A “Discovery Day” is a Science and Engineering Challenge event designed for Year 5 to 6 (NSW Stage 3) students. It features hands-on science and engineering activities that are half-day duration; simple 1-page notes and scoring and a mid-day SMART science show.
Eight schools per day send teams of up to 24 students to compete against each other at a central venue.
At the Discovery Days, an understanding of the value of teamwork, thinking outside the square, creativity, innovation and that learning can be great fun, are all explored.
The practical hands-on activities all involve principles of science, engineering and technology and are designed so that students can start working with a minimum of introduction.
The Newcastle and Maitland Discovery Days' program is designed for a class-sized school team and consists of up to 32 Year 5 or 6 students competing in two half-day activities ranging from design-and-build projects to logic, teamwork and task-oriented activities. Students do two 90-minute STEM-based activities during the day. Activities include Max Power, Minipult, Earthquake, String-along, Robot, Eco-house, Get over it, Mars Buggy, Puff Puff car and Water works.