Eyre Peninsula schools prepare for Science and Engineering Challenge

PRACTICE: Port Lincoln High School students Mikayla MacCuspie, Maisy Rogers and Denise Sadiwa try to find a solution to the 'Twenty Brick Challenge' in preparation for the Science and Engineering Challenge. Photo: Jarrad Delaney
PRACTICE: Port Lincoln High School students Mikayla MacCuspie, Maisy Rogers and Denise Sadiwa try to find a solution to the 'Twenty Brick Challenge' in preparation for the Science and Engineering Challenge. Photo: Jarrad Delaney

High schools from across Eyre Peninsula will converge on Port Lincoln later this month for the 2021 Rotary - Bendigo Community Bank Port Lincoln - Science and Engineering Challenge.

The region's challenge alternates annually between Whyalla and Port Lincoln, and after the disappointment of 2020's COVID-enforced cancellation, this year's event will be staged at the Mangiri Centre at Navigator College.

There will also be a second day of competition in 2021 - a discovery day for primary school students, which is the only one of its kind in South Australia.

The Science and Engineering Challenge is an outreach program conducted nationally by the University of Newcastle and is designed to inspire secondary students to study maths and science at senior levels.

Students compete in school teams, participating in a series of activities designed to demonstrate the varied and practical elements of a career in science and engineering-related industries.

Now in its 21st year, the challenge takes students out of the classroom and provides them with a day of fun, teamwork and discovery.

Local organiser from the Port Lincoln Science and Engineering Challenge Committee Shaun Thomas said they had received entries from school across Eyre Peninsula to join those from Port Lincoln, including from Whyalla, Ceduna and Cummins.

"All of the schools are really looking forward to this year's event in Port Lincoln, with the winning team heading to Adelaide in August to compete in the SA Super Challenge," he said.

Cummins Area School, the 2019 winners, set a high standard for other schools to follow as they not only won the state final that year, but also managed a podium finish in the Australian finals in Western Australia.

Mr Thomas said preparations were going well and that they had been fortunate to secure funding and in-kind sponsorship from a variety of local businesses and organisations.

These include Bendigo Community Bank Port Lincoln, the Rotary Club of Port Lincoln, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, Atlassian Foundation, Navigator College, the Sarin Group, the City of Port Lincoln, Regional Development Australia Eyre Peninsula, EP Analysis, the University of South Australia (Whyalla campus) and Southern Launch, plus more.

Mr Thomas said he was confident this year's event would be bigger and better than last time.

"It is inspiring to see our local students attack some of the difficult problems devised by the University of Newcastle - on the day they will be designing, constructing and testing a variety of objects, from bridges and catapults to turbines and bionic hands," he said.

"Students will have to be innovative and creative if they are to succeed.

"The hands-on, competitive nature of the Challenge provides an experience that cannot be easily duplicated in the classroom."

The challenge, which receives considerable support from Rotary clubs across the country, runs in every start and territory and sees about 25,000 students participate annually.

The event is now a regular part of the school year in Eyre Peninsula and highly valued by science and technology teachers.

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