The learning area of science offers an innovative and diverse programme. It is designed to stimulate our students’ curiosity and teach knowledge and life-enhancing skills. Students investigate, understand and communicate about the physical, biological and technological world. The integration of technology into the science learning area has permitted students to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of our world. With knowledge gained in science some students make career decisions based on experience gained in biological or physical science areas.
STEM at MCC
Students in Year 10 Science Extension completed a self guided module where they learnt to control, maintain and programme Edison Robots. All Science teachers at the College completed a professional development afternoon with Scitech and learnt how the robots worked, before teaching the students the basics and monitoring their progress through the module. After completing the module, students conducted an investigation where they had to design additions to their basic Edison robot to make them more suitable for a Sumo wresting style robot wars competition. After conducting preliminary rounds in class where the losing robots were eliminated, the final rounds were conducted during the College’s Science Week Celebration and was covered by the local and state newspapers. The winner was a heavy set robot named “Garry”. During our Science Week celebration students in the Endeavour Club demonstrated their Lego Mindstorm Robots, the Information Technology students displayed their R2D2 and jumping robots, and the junior school showed the senior school students how to use Spheros robots.
Students in Year 8 Science Extension spent a term creating solutions to problems with a “Star Wars” theme – using “the force” (static electricity) to roll a soda can though an obstacle course, creating fighter gliders, engineering Ewok launchers, developing levitation devices for spheres, engineering marshmallow blasters, building a magnetic Jedi maze, creating their own droid, producing bubbles inside bubbles, developing electric corn starch, as well as learning code through “Building a Galaxy with Code”.
All of these activities involved working collaboratively as a team to solve a problem using their scientific knowledge, utilising technology to design and research, engineering possible solutions, conducting trials and mathematically interpreting data produced then making improvements on their solutions and building a final prototype. The students really enjoyed thinking outside the box and problem solving.
Students in Year 8 Science Extension conducted an individual research assignment about drones. They had to develop an understanding of the physics of drone flight, current and future technological advancements in drone development, uses for drones and associated laws and ethics.
Students then had drone flying lessons with the College IT support team, and developed skills in taking off, hovering with stability, manoeuvring around obstacles, doing tricks (forward and back flips and flying through a hoop) and landing safely. They also had to look at weather conditions and make educated decisions regarding how wind speed and direction could affect the flight of their drone.
This cumulated in a obstacle course style competition which was conducted during Science Week 2016, with the winning student completing the course in 1.32min.
AURECON BRIDGE BUILDING COMPETITION
Students in Year 8 Science Extension spent a term investigating the science, technology, engineering and mathematics of bridges before designing and building their own in groups of four. Students learnt about the physics of bridges including compressive and tensile forces, conducted both virtual laboratories and practicals regarding material strength and flexibility, the strength of different shapes, conducted calculations of Newtons and average mass held by different type of beams and channels, and tested how different types of join and connection can be used.
Students then designed their bridges digitally using “Sketch Up Make” following the criteria set by the Aurecon Bridge Building Competition. They then built their bridges out of the set materials – 300x pop sticks, 120mL of glue, 1m of string and a 60cm postage tube. We ran a competition within the College using the same testing criteria as the competition before sending the best two bridges to the WA Aurecon Bridge Building Competition at Scitech in August. The students had to answer questions from a panel of experts about the science, technology, maths and engineering of their bridges before they were tested. One team’s bridge held 20.5kg, while the other team’s bridge held 49.5kg.
CREATE YOUR OWN HAND SANITIZER
Students in Year 9 Science Extension spent a term learning about microbiology. They learn about the different types of bacteria, trial different plating techniques, use mathematics to calculate dilution of disinfectants in solutions and test them, as well as test whether the five second rule is a valid one (it’s not). Students then researched about natural substances which exhibit antiviral properties before creating their own hand sanitizer, which they then tested on E.coli bacteria. Students also tested their product on the public (staff at the College) as well as conducting a survey on the public about their hand sanitizer product and interpreted the data obtained to make changes in the future. The students really enjoyed creating their product and hearing the positive responses given by their teachers when they tested it on them.
SCIENCE COMPETITIONS AND PROGRAMS
In addition to many other STEM related activities, the College enters many competitions listed on the STEM Programme Index (SPI). These competitions include:
– Science IQ Competition (where two of our teams came equal fourth place nationally)
– The Big Science Competition (five students received Certificates of High Distinction – top 5% nationally)
– The Neuroscience Australia Brain Bee Competition (in which four of our students have qualified for the state finals in July)
– ANCQ Chemistry Competition
– Science Olympiad (Biology and Physics)
– Education Perfect Science Championships (eight students completed certificates)
We also sent a contingent of eight students from year 9 and 10 to the Conoco Phillips Science Experience over the summer holidays. The students who attended reported that they had a great time, learning a lot of STEM content and meeting other similarly minded students from other schools.