Science + Technology + Engineering + Maths=STEM@FBC


The culmination of a term-long inquiry by our Prep students and an R&D project progressed by a small group of Year 8 students, was evident today. Whilst the Prep Expo and the Aurecon Bridge Building Competition may seem worlds apart, they had much in common. The prep students explored, researched and learned about the biodiversity of our local area and more broadly Australia to appreciate the importance of contributing to a sustainable future.

They then displayed their new bio-scientific knowledge through the creation of a diorama...a 3 dimensional model of a sustainable habitat. The design skills, dexterity required to construct the diorama, and application of habitat knowledge resulted in displays that attracted a large audience to the Prep Sustainability Expo. The Prep learning community welcomed parents and family members, sharing the unique creations of our young scientists, designers and engineers. Our visitors clearly enjoyed the opportunity!

Aurecon Bridge Building Competition

I was fortunate to spend some time at Mount St Joseph Girl's College in Altona with some of our students, where the Aurecon Bridge Building Competition was taking place. An event for students from Year 8 onwards, 3 of our students, Hurshil, Saksham and Neel accepted the challenge to build a bridge in accordance with the competition parameters Their Science teacher, Mr Declan Sega provided support, encouragement and prompts throughout the last 2 terms as the students edged closer and closer to their desired model. The following is commentary from the teacher and students about the process they experienced, the dispositions they needed to assume to become collectively successful and the sense of accomplishment earned, as they researched, learned, trialled, learned, simulated and learned further to arrive at their final competition model.

Today marked Featherbrook Colleges first attempt at the Aurecon Bridge Building competition. Hurshil, Saksham and Neel of Year 8 pioneered for the college as the “Featherbridges”. There were two clear goals the team wanted to achieve. One goal was set from Aurecon: build, using designated materials, a bridge that can hold as much weight as possible. The other goal was made by the team: to make a bridge as resourceful as possible and as light as possible.

Before the big moment, our team was hoping to hold at least 3kgs of weight. We were able to hold 10kgs in total before the bridge gave in. The team had also achieved a surprising 102gram bridge opposed to the 300gram maximum. So light, the judges were surprised at the result.

There were only 2 schools, including our own, which were competing for the first time. Featherbrook achieved something particularly valuable from seeing the veterans in action: knowledge. Hurshil and Saksham began discussing, with passion, ways in which they could have improved their design and the scientific reasoning behind the changes encompassing their reflection. Moreover, the team left with a strong appreciation for the thought and theory behind every component of what makes a bridge structure efficient. The team was very enthused to bring their knowledge back home to support our next year’s teams’ growth and show everyone what the Featherbridges are made of in 2020. Mr Sega

“We had difficulties collaborating at the beginning. We clashed ideas and were unable to agree upon how we would tackle the design. After we had found common ground with each other, our productivity improved exponentially. The roles were split between cutting/gluing, research/support and knot tying. The design of the bridge was heavily influenced by triangles and crosses. These shapes distribute forces very effectively as force is split between the sides of a triangle/cross to the base. A hexagon would have been much better but we were not confident with our skills, because we were beginners.

Aurecon gave us very specific resources to use and there were no chances of replacing broken pieces. So we were really careful about any decision that was made before we tried it. Our sides were a variation of the Truss bridge to supply more weight diversity, our base has an x to support the rest of the bridge and our “road” is numerous sticks glued together because that is the safest way of making it. We spent a long time simulating our bridge. It was a nice moment when it all started physically coming together. The day was full of many surprises. But we were proud that our design was original and made from research and application. We wanted to avoid influence from already existing bridges to make sure that our design was our own.” Hurshil

“We may not have gotten the best result. But what I know is that we learned new things along the way. I hope we can be mentors for the year 8’s of next year who will be competing. I don’t want what we learnt today to not be used in the future.” Suksham