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Scitech delivers an online engineering challenge to remote students

More than 35 regional schools in remote communities across the state took up a STEM challenge as part of Scitech’s Aboriginal Education Program.

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The Ball Run Challenge was a fun engineering activity using materials to build a contraption or giant run that would set a ball in motion through a series of chain reactions. Students were encouraged to explore and use their communities or landmarks as part of the challenge, along with self-contained kits including materials, resources and information for teachers, sent to schools prior to the launch.

This new workshop was aimed at encouraging engagement with regional indigenous students to have a positive hands on STEM experience that involves collaboration and perseverance, and could be adapted to suit different communities and year levels. It is part of Scitech’s ongoing education programming designed to cater to the learning style and needs of indigenous students in communities around Western Australia, while encouraging the involvement of the wider community.

Program Coordinator Caitlin McLeod says that this year’s program had to pivot to an online delivery due to the disruptions with travel and in schools through COVID.

“This was an inaugural virtual event for the Aboriginal Education Program. It gave us a valuable touchpoint with many of the remote schools and communities in WA which was exciting for both us and students participating. During the session we played a game to build tinkering skills and watched a video of a ball run we built in Perth to inspire the kids to build their own.” Caitlin says.

Strelley Community School in Port Hedland construct their Ball Run Challenge

“It was amazing to see students suddenly stop what they were doing and watch the video as a way to show the potential of what they can do with this activity.  It also showcased Perth like Kings Park, the Zoo and even Scitech because many students haven’t, or won’t ever get the opportunity to travel to the city. Having a video as part of the online event was so effective in being able to captivate the students and demonstrate how they might tackle the challenge.”

A popular part of the challenge so far has been schools being asked to submit videos showing their Ball Run Challenges which will be combined together into one “Ball Run across WA” video, linking all the participating school communities once the activity finishes at the end of July.

Working in collaboration with the community as a whole, the aim of the education program is to increase awareness of the importance and relevance of STEM for indigenous students and build the capacity of educators to teach STEM subjects. It is made possible through Scitech’s long standing partnerships with Rio Tinto.

 

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