Yass High School students from Year 9 travelled to Goulburn Show Ground to participate in the Southern Tablelands round of the Science and Engineering Challenge for 2022. Competing against Crookwell, Goulburn, and Mulwaree High Schools, as well as Braidwood Central School, Yass High School students participated in several activities, including building a tower capable of withstanding an earthquake and a bridge from a limited supply of materials. At midday, after completing four tasks, Yass High was third. (Photo at top Bella Gavidi, Alerya Brayshaw, TameriaJones-Hope and Jasmine Taylor)

The final task of the day was testing the bridges to see how much weight they could take before breaking. The other four bridges all withstood the 10-kilogram test, but the Yass one did not. However, the Yass bridge was significantly lighter than all the others, so its strength-to-weight ratio was much better, which meant that Yass High School was declared the day’s winner. Yass High School students now look forward to the State Finals at Newcastle.

The Science and Engineering Challenge is a non-profit STEM outreach program run throughout the school year in Australia. The program’s goal is to challenge students’ perception of science and engineering and experience aspects of those fields that they normally would not encounter in a school environment. Run by the University of Newcastle, it allows Australian high school students in Years 9 and 10 to experience how science and engineering can help solve real-world problems in a fun, competitive setting. 

Teams of students from different schools compete against each other in a series of challenges, starting with ‘Bridge Building’, where students construct a model bridge out of balsa wood and masking tape, which then has to support a railcar carrying increasingly heavy weights as it races across a test rig.

The ‘Hover Frenzy’ challenge involves designing, building and flying a model hovercraft that is fast, maneuverable and maintains hover height.

Schools students across NSW participated in the Challenge

‘Future Power’ tasks students with avoiding a blackout in Future City by balancing energy needs and choosing from a range of power stations.

Finally, ‘Helter Skelter Shelter’ involves constructing towers from everyday materials, which are then tested for strength and stability using weights and a shaking base simulating an earthquake.

Qualifying teams like Yass High School will compete in the New South Wales Finals, with the New South Wales champion school participating in the Science and Engineering Challenge National Final.

Southerly Jones