$100,000 Grant for Newcastle STEM Outreach Program

The University of Newcastle’s innovative Science and Engineering Challenge has attracted a $100,000 grant from the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer’s office to run events and give regional schools access to exciting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities.

The Science and Engineering Challenge runs a range of STEM outreach events right around Australia. The largest of these is a national competition for year 9-10 students, with over 18,000 people taking part each year.

“The Challenge is a wonderful initiative because it sparks in our kids — through fun, hands-on experiments — a curiosity about science and engineering and gets them thinking about how they might help solve some of the world’s big problems,” Professor O’Kane said.

“It’s lovely to see school children being encouraged to ask questions about the world around them and developing a passion for maths and science.”

“This type of exposure to STEM is tremendously important if students are to be encouraged to consider studying science and maths in senior school and at university,” she said.

The Science and Engineering Super Challenge state final takes place during National Science Week, as part of over a thousand other science and technology related events across the country. The competition will run from Tuesday 15th to Thursday 17th August at the University of Newcastle and will involve the top 26 schools from across NSW and the ACT.

The one highest-scoring winning school will go on to represent NSW at the National Final held in Dubbo in November.

Students who attended last year said that, as a result of their involvement, they “…were able to better cooperate and work together to achieve a united goal” and that “…it revitalised energy around science and engineering”.

The Science and Engineering Challenge is designed to inspire year 9-10 students to consider future STEM careers by involving them in a series of fun and engaging science and engineering-based activities that would not normally be available in a school classroom. ­The activities themselves involve a wide range of STEM challenges including building model bridges, planning electrical supply grids, and even building functional catapults.