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, 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 predetermined 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.
Each challenge day, up to 250 students participate in a series of competitive activities. These activities are designed to demonstrate the varied and practical elements of a career in the science and engineering industries. The Challenge takes the students out of the classroom and gives them a day of fun, teamwork and discovery.
All Saints College St Peter's Campus Maitland are the current 2015 National Science and Engineering Challenge Champions.
Visit the Science and Engineering Challenge website.
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 5-6 (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 24 year six students competing in two half-day activities ranging from design-and-build projects to logic, teamwork and task-oriented activities.
The study of robotics is an appealing way to encourage students’ understanding of programming, electronics and problem solving.
Year 8 students at San Clemente High School, Mayfield have the opportunity to learn about Robotics in the time allocated to sport. The initiative, offered in a
ten-week module devised by two of the school’s Science and Mathematics teachers, was funded by the Manufacturing Education Program sponsored by the Australian Government.
Students are supplied with a programmable 'brick' computer to control the system, a variety of modular sensors and motors, and parts to create the mechanical systems. Each week a new sensor is added which increases the complexity of the challenges the robot can be programmed to meet.
Students work towards breaking up problems or task them into manageable chunks and work towards a solution. Tasks can include programming the robot to calculate distance to be travelled before an object will be hit, negotiating a maze and carrying out a bank heist: reaching the bank, reversing into the building, making the escape and then reaching the designated hideaway location.
With sufficient funding and support, San Clemente hopes to introduce Robotics as a Year 9 elective, and eventually enter a team in the RoboCupJunior Newcastle Regional Competition to be held at the University of Newcastle.