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.
In 2019 our teams will be better prepared being able to draw on their experience last year to create a faster, more dynamic design. The addition of a laser cutter to the College resources will ensure we are able to build competitive cars.
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 since 2016 and we are continuing this relationship in 2019. 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 had nearly fifty students involved in the Challenge and we are looking to have more than one hundred students take part in 2019.
The Coding Club introduced in 2017 is again taking place in 2019. In 2018 we participated in an exciting project with Apple and the Coder Academy. This was part of a pilot project Apple ran 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.
2018 also saw our involvement in Sydney University’s STEM Academy. More information can be found on the page dedicated to this project.
In 2019 we are again looking to provide our students with new and exciting experiences. We will be partnering with STEAM Punk Girls from the University of Technology to create a project based unit for our 8.1 class in Term 1.
Our Year 7 Newman class will tackle a STEM project on Space in Term 2, while all Year 7 students will undertake a STEM project in Term 4 similar to the project we introduced last year through our association with the STEM Academy from USYD. This again will have a focus on the native stingless bees.
The Year 8 students will be participating in a STEM unit in Semester Two involving drones. We will be partnering with JAR Aerospace for this exciting initiative.
These are just a few of the learning opportunities that will be available to our students in 2019. You will be able to keep up to date with what is happening on our Authentic Learning blog throughout the year.