South-west students sample jobs in science

WINNING SKILLS: Schools Science Challenge winners Timboon P-12 with their trophy: "... it was fun challenging yourself to get the best result". Picture: Rob Gunstone
WINNING SKILLS: Schools Science Challenge winners Timboon P-12 with their trophy: "... it was fun challenging yourself to get the best result". Picture: Rob Gunstone

Building a bridge and developing a bionic hand were among the activities year nine and 10 students took on as part of the South Coast Science and Engineering Challenge.

Seven schools competed for the top spot, with students from Timboon P-12 school taking out the title at Deakin University in Warrnambool on Tuesday.

Taya Thomson, 16, said the group spent three hours building a bridge from scratch. 

“It was hard having no idea where to start, but it was fun challenging yourself to get the best result,” she said.

Victoria’s lead scientist Doctor Amanda Caples was the judge of the challenge, which addresses the skills shortage in science and engineering by inspiring young people to study math, physics and chemistry.

Dr Caples said it was great to see students working as a team. 

“It’s not until you’re actually involved in this type of situation that you really get to understand how to solve your own problems and it’s important for students to learn that sometimes there’s not always one solution,” she said. 

“Everyone is used to doing math problems, where you either get it right or you get it wrong, but science, especially in an environment like this, is something the students can experiment and have fun with.” 

Dr Caples said the focal point of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education was students aged between years seven and ten. 

“This is the age where students start to engage or disengage with STEM subjects,” she said. 

“For us, it’s about getting or helping students to see the relevance of STEM education so that they can continue to participate to the best of their individual ability. 

“Not everyone is going to be a science graduate but if they’ve got that understanding of science and math it will really help them to develop their future career. 

“I always say that science gives you the method of asking questions, and technology, engineering and math gives you the technology to do something with that. So whether you’re a plumber, pastry maker or a professor, you’re going to find something valuable with those capabilities.”

Timboon P-12 science teacher Nigel Mottram said he was thrilled to see students take out the 2018 South Coast Science and Engineering Challenge.

“It’s all part of our science curriculum framework that includes the Timboon Agriculture Project (TAP), which students have been working on for the past five years,” he said. 

“The agriculture program is heavily based around science and teaching students how to problem solve. This challenge has provided students with real life experiences that you can’t learn from a text book.” 

The  South Coast Science and Engineering Challenge is an outreach program founded in 2000. It has since grown to involve 1000 schools and 35,000 people nationwide. 

Participating schools were Baimbridge College, Emmanuel College, Heywood and District Secondary College, Kings College, Warrnambool College, Timboon P-12 and for the first time Gnurad-Gundidj School for Leadership.