14th annual MidCoast Science and Engineering Challenge

2015 winners: Wingham High School went on to compete in Newcastle after their win in Taree.
2015 winners: Wingham High School went on to compete in Newcastle after their win in Taree.

More than 1300 local school students will have the chance to explore the wonders of science, engineering and mathematics when they take part in the 14th annual MidCoast Science and Engineering Challenge that starts later this week in Taree.

The annual event, sponsored locally by MidCoast Water and run by the University of Newcastle with the support of local Rotary clubs, has attracted record numbers.

There are two parts of the challenge: a high school competition in which teams compete to represent the district at further competitions and five discovery days for primary school students.

The event has attracted participants from the Manning, Great Lakes and Gloucester school areas.

The high school challenge day on Friday (May 19) includes a variety of fun and exciting team activities culminating in a major construction challenge in the afternoon which draws on the principles learnt throughout the day.

The winning high school student team will then have the opportunity to pit their minds against some of the best in the region when they get the chance to complete for the Science and Engineering Challenge Plate in Newcastle in several months’ time. The finalists from this round will then venture to the national round later in the year.

The primary school discovery days, to be held next week (Monday May 22 – Friday May 26), involve high school students  working with the younger participants to foster an interest in science, engineering and maths.

The Taree Racecourse function centre will host both the primary school and high school events. Each day will involve over 250 students.

“We think this is an important program to stimulate students’ interest in science and engineering,” MidCoast Water’s general manager Ken Gouldthorp said.

“It is extremely encouraging to see such strong representation from local schools – we have 1300 students from 27 primary schools in the area taking part in the primary school discovery days.”

Local organiser, Rotarian John Walton, said the high school challenge day was expected to attract more than 200 students from at least six of the local secondary schools.

The main aim of the challenge is to encourage students to study mathematics, engineering and technology subjects for their HSC, and look at further studies in the fields at university level.