Hundreds of high school science students from across the Gold Coast left their textbooks behind this week to test their skills at the 2013 Science and Engineering Challenge.

Hosted by Griffith University in the grounds of the Queensland Academy for Health Sciences at Southport, the challenge provides year 9 and 10 students with the opportunity to test their knowledge and skills in a fun and competitive environment.

Griffith’s Science Education Alliance Coordinator Louise Maddock said the benefit of the program lies in its practical nature.

“Through a series of hands-on enquiry activities, students work together in teams to develop their knowledge of the principles of science and engineering,” Ms Maddock said.

“This is an important time for high school students, when they have to start following their interests and making career choices,” she said.

With a shortage of science graduates in Australia, it is hoped that events like the Science and Engineering Challenge will be the spark that ignites an interest in students to choose a career in the sciences.

Griffith has just announced its new comprehensive Bachelor of Science degree in direct response to the looming national crisis around the shortage of science graduates in Australia.

The day’s grand finale was the ‘Bridge Buster’, a culmination of a few hours work on bridges made out of paddle pop sticks, paper clips and masking tape and designed to successfully support a carriage loaded with ‘gold’ ingots as it travelled from one end of the track to the other.

St Hilda’s students Isabella Tremain, Amy McIlwraith and Bridget Burtoncame second in the bridge bust, as theywere successful in getting their 139 gram bridge to support 9 kilograms of gold ingots, but theylost points due to its weight.

“Our class was given the opportunity to take part in the Science and Engineering Challenge, so we decided to give it a go,” the girls said.

“We worked on the bridge for about five hours today and it was a huge sigh of relief when it passed the test.”

The overall winning schools were Pacific Pines State High School on day 1 (19 August) and Emmanuel College on day 2 (20 August).

Winners of the regional challenge will have the opportunity to proceed to the Queensland challenge, and if successful there take on the nation’s best.


The Bridge Buster in action at the Science and Engineering Challenge.

The Science and Engineering Challenge is supported by the Australian government and a number of local sponsors including Rotary Club of Ashmore, Hyder Consulting, Engineers Australia, BankMECU, McConnellDowell-GoldLinQ.