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Engineering secrets out

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The secret strength of triangles was revealed by Years 3 and 4 as they built tall frames from seemingly fragile spaghetti with marshmallow ‘joiners’ and nothing else. The brief was to make a structure to hold a ping-pong ball as high as possible off the ground for at least a minute. In discussion afterwards, Mr Pomfrett pointed through the window of Hooke House to a famous example, the triangular ‘braces’ of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

 

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Downstairs construction in paper by Years 3 and 4 proved a similar point with paper columns holding up 50 grams for a minute or more.

 

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Down the hall, a kind of three-legged race was on as Years 5 and 6 tested their artificial limbs and leaned on a couple of team members to test their work to 10 metres. The trick was to achieve this using only materials that would be to hand in a developing country, including a bathroom plunger, masking tape, string, nylon cord – and two friends’ shoulders.

 

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Bricks for Kids had Years 3 and 4 making satellites. Following a video and chat about what astronauts get up to at the international space station – collecting samples, making improvements to the satellite – the group built one for themselves in Technic Lego, complete with motor and battery and their own improvement, a sleeping pod.

 

At Woodstock, after hearing how vibrations and sound waves travel through air, liquids and solids, Kindergarten to Year 2 students made their own phones – the cup-and-string variety.

 

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Robogals from University of NSW had Years 5 and 6 in The Hall discover that behind every screen is coding. They used a logical language, Python, to create simple on-screen forms and scissors-paper-rock games.

 

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These challenges were part of a huge Engineering Day program across Junior School, set up with help from STEM Captain Veronica. Girls worked across year groups with different teachers than usual too.  As well as practical challenges, older groups had to research the name of their group, whose names included Archimedes, John Logie Baird, Gustave Eiffel, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Emily Warren Roebling, James Watt, and John Ambrose Fleming.

 

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