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Science and engineering made fun for students – and teachers


Sharlene King
20 June 2018

Bright sparks, young Einsteins, whiz kids and problem-solvers will be in their element at the 2018 Northern River Science and Engineering Challenge at Southern Cross University, starting today.

Presented with a series of tasks based on real-life challenges, more than 1500 students from 48 primary and high schools across Northern NSW will experience aspects of science and engineering that they would not usually see in the classroom.

Southern Cross University in conjunction with Rotary Club of Alstonville is proud to host the 12th year of the Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge over six days of competition from June 20 to 27.

“Students get to use their skills in problem-solving and teamwork and get a feel for considering STEM-based career choices,” said Associate Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, Faculty of Science and Engineering.

“Interest in the Challenge hasn’t diminished over time, in fact the event is fully booked each year. Schools from as far as Tenterfield in the west, Tweed Heads in the north and Grafton in the south will bus in to Lismore to compete for the regional Challenge prizes. These prizes are always highly sought-after by schools because they help equip science classrooms with laboratory supplies, thanks to donations from our sponsors.”

Those whose passion for understanding the processes that shape our world is sparked at the Challenge can find out more about how they can develop practical skills and real world solutions through Southern Cross University degrees in engineering and environmental and marine sciences. 

This year, Southern Cross’ commitment to schools in the region goes well beyond the Challenge and Discovery days and back to the classroom itself. The University has developed accredited programs for teacher training in STEM subjects. 

“All teachers are required to undertake professional development training to maintain their teacher accreditation with the NSW Education Standards Authority. Southern Cross now offers accredited learning course in STEM to teachers,” Associate Professor Reichelt-Brushett said. 

“Over the next few months high school teachers will be able to attend training in Biology courses at the National Marine Science Centre at Coffs Harbour; and in Robotics – for primary and high school teachers - at Lismore with our Engineering staff.”

Teachers attending the Science and Engineering Challenge will be given an overview of these courses and inspect some of the facilities they’ll have access to. 

“These courses, which are open to teachers around NSW, will place our region as a centre of learning and professional development,” Associate Professor Reichelt-Brushett said.

“We are proud to be connecting with high school teachers and providing local opportunities for professional development. This saves our local teaching having to head to the cities for their training and will also bring teachers from the city to our region.”

The Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge is possible with the wonderful support of the Rotary Club of Alstonville and our sponsors.