Challenge organiser vouches for ability of central Australian students 

St Philips students (l-r) Patty McFarland, Joel Robinson and Issak Hartley-Richards take their air ship for a test ride

Creativity, team work and persistence were the hallmarks of students competing in the Alice Springs leg of the inaugural Science and Engineering Challenge, aimed to inspire young people to purse careers in science and technology.

A mobile team from the University of Newcastle works with local schools and industries across Australia to run the challenge.

The Alice Springs campus of CDU and Centralian Senior Secondary College (CSSC) hosted the event with schools across Alice Springs and Tennant Creek High School competing for points.

Terry Burns, team leader of the challenge, said he was very impressed with the approach and abilities of the 150 high school competitors.

‘Some of the events were much better than I’ve seen anywhere else in Australia,’ he said. ‘These students don’t rely so much on analysis and text books, but work together to come up with creative, alternative solutions.’

Activities included the design and construction of a catapult, Mars buggy, propeller-driven train, airship, pulley-driven boat and a hovercraft. The final competition brought all students together to test their load-bearing bridges.

CDU, DEST, DEET, CSSC and Power and Water and Engineers Australia representatives presented awards to winning schools with Our Lady Sacred Heart College (OLSH) pipping CSSC as overall winners.

The next challenge will be held at the CDU Casuarina campus on 23 and 24 August.

The winning school will enter the South Australian competition with the eventual winners from that group entering national finals.