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Students put science to the test


Brigid Veale
23 May 2007
Cracking encryption codes, rounding up model sheep and constructing a catapult will be among the challenges facing around 240 high school students at the inaugural Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus tomorrow (Thursday, May 24).

The Challenge is being organised by Southern Cross University’s School of Environmental Science and Management in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Alstonville, with support from a range of business sponsors.

Professor Serwan Baban, Head of the School of Environmental Science and Management, said the Challenge was an ideal way to broaden the horizons of high school students.

“It’s important for us to go beyond the theories and principles embedded in textbooks. This is learning through doing and relates to the issues that are relevant to the region,” Professor Baban said.

“We want to show these students what’s possible and how they can make an impact on the issues that are important to Australia and the region, such as managing water resources as well as global climate change. The fields of science and engineering provide that foundation which is essential for developing the economy and society’s wellbeing.”

Eight high schools from the Northern Rivers – Alstonville, Kadina, Lismore, Mullumbimby, Richmond River, Trinity Catholic College, Emmanuel Anglican College and Southern Cross K-12 – will be taking part in the Challenge.

The school teams, each made up of between 20 and 30 Year 10 students, will be given a range of competitive activities, from making catapults to aircraft, which involve the principles of science, engineering and technology. At the end of the day the winning school will be presented with a trophy.

Mr Peter Swain, chair of the organising committee, said there was a shortage of scientists, engineers and technicians in Australia.

“The Challenge is a wonderful way to introduce science in action to high school students and show its practical application,” Mr Swain said.

“Through the Challenge we hope that students will at least consider science, including environmental science at Southern Cross University, for further study and possibly a future career.”

He said the Rotary Club of Alstonville was delighted to be involved in the organisation of the initial Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge.

Visiting Rotarian Ed Korbyl from Alberta, Canada has kindly manufactured and donated the trophies demonstrating the true spirit of Rotary International.

Local authorities and businesses have also been very supportive with their generous sponsorship including: the Northern Rivers Echo, One Steel,
Engineering Australia, Country Energy, Richmond Waste, North Coast Institute of TAFE, Frank Spinaze and Associates, Northern Co-op Meat Co., the NSW Sugar Milling Co-op, EAL, Ballina Shire Council and Lismore City Council.

The event will be held in the Southern Cross University gymnasium on Thursday, May 24, with the activities kicking off at 10am.

Media are invited to attend.