Communications & Media

Students showcase science and engineering skills

Aspiring scientists and engineers have been sharing their ideas and innovation during a prestigious competition at the University of Tasmania.

Last week, hundreds converged on the Cradle Coast and Newnham campuses for the 2018 Science and Engineering Investigation Awards.

The annual, state-wide competition challenges students in years 5 – 12 to explore a ‘hypothesis’ of their choice, working in teams or individually.

Over many months, students have been conducting experiments in and out of the classroom to test their theories before presenting their findings to judges.

Burnie was the first location to host the competition (4 – 6 September), before it travelled to Launceston (6 – 7 September).

This year’s North-West entrants presented projects including an investigation into what water in Queenstown affects plant growth, edible water bottles, a flood indicator and alarm, a catapult, and pharmaceutical app.

Launceston projects included determining the most efficient brand of paper straw, whether height and/or gender influence lung capacity and an investigation of the best wing shape for maximum lift in aeroplanes.

One innovative group even designed a 3D printer specifically for bioprinting with a view to possibly achieving rudimentary artificial skin.

North-West Coordinator Cate Rejman said it was exciting to see the competition continuing to grow in the region with around 700 students from 22 schools involved.

“The Science and Engineering Investigation Awards originated in Burnie, so we feel incredibly proud that increasing numbers of students are feeling inspired to explore these fascinating disciplines,” Ms Rejman said.

“The competition encourages young people to exercise scientific thought and test their creativity and innovation - all while allowing them to engage with real-life scientists, engineers and industry experts.

“It would not be possible without the investment of our community, business and government sponsors who continue to support the next generation of bright minds in this region through generous prizes and awards.”

Northern Coordinator Prue Hamill said that over 50 volunteers from industry, government and academia converged in Launceston to judge over 160 projects which were presented by 233 students from 13 schools.

“It was really great to see all the schools come together in the spirit of friendly competition. This year we had 4 new schools participate in the awards and we even had a group of students fly over from Flinders Island,” Ms Hamill said.

“The quality of projects was excellent and the feedback from judges, teachers and students was incredibly positive. Everyone had a great time.

“It was clear to see that some of the students have a really bright future in science and/or engineering ahead of them.”

Professor Brian Yates, Executive Dean of the University’s College of Sciences and Engineering wished 2018 competition entrants all the very best.

“The competition provides young people with an opportunity to become familiar with our university campuses, while exploring the many exciting possibilities which science and engineering presents,” Professor Yates said.

“Many participants have gone on to enrol at the University of Tasmania and achieve great things. We look forward to supporting the next generation if and when they are ready to embark on a higher education journey.”

Prizes were presented during formal evening events in Burnie and Launceston last week.

The Science and Engineering Investigation Awards will continue in Hobart on 13 and 20 September.

Published on: 10 Sep 2018 9:27am