STEM and STEAM

The College entered the UNSW Sunsprint Challenge for the first time in 2017. This was one of our major STEM initiatives for the year, with four teams from Years 8 to 10 participating. Our Sunsprint blog covered the journey of each of our four teams as they progressed in the Challenge.

The Sunsprint Challenge is run by the Photovoltaic School at UNSW. The event always coincides with the Open Day held at the start of September each year. The Challenge has a long history with schools across all educational systems taking part. Sunsprint is a classic STEM project. Students work in teams to design and build a model solar car based on a set of guidelines outlined by the national body.

Model solar cars are built from scratch. Students come up with a design that meets the guidelines and then work out the best way to construct the car. They have to choose the material, they have to be able to wire the motor to the solar panels, they need to choose the correct gear ratio to ensure the car moves at maximum speed in both low and full light and they need to use the formula to calculate the weight to power output from the solar panels. Once each car is working the real test comes as teams have to work together when the race against other schools at UNSW on race day.

This year our teams will be better prepared being able to draw on their experience last year to create a faster, more dynamic design. We are excited to see if the teams can be more competitive in this year’s event.

Visit the UNSW Sunsprint site for further information on the project.

Another of our initiatives this year is to continue the relationship with Engineers Without Borders. St Clare’s students worked with EWB in both 2016 and 2017 and we are continuing this relationship in 2018. EWB help students see some of the real challenges facing developing nations. Through STEM students work to create solutions to these challenges guided by engineering students from UNSW. Being involved in EWB allows students to see clear pathways to a future in engineering at UNSW. It is a wonderful example of authentic learning in action.

In Term 3 students are invited to participate in the National Computer Science School Challenge. The Challenge is designed to teach students to code while they try to solve problems. It is an initiative by Grok Learning (Sydney University’s education start up) and is supported by some of the major tech companies like Google and Atlassian. In 2018 we have nearly fifty students involved in the Challenge.

The Coding Club introduced in Term 4 is again taking place in 2018. We had an exciting project with Apple and the Coder Academy that took place in Term 2. This was part of a pilot project Apple are running to promote coding in schools. The project was based around the Swift Playground language and had a focus on app development in iOS. Nine students across Years 7 to 11 took place in the App Developer course which was very challenging in that it involved both coding and app development software. All girls involved in the program were grateful for the opportunity to develop some amazing skills.

The major STEM project for 2018 is our involvement in Sydney University’s STEM Academy. More information can be found on the page dedicated to this project.