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Staff and students alike indulged their inner ‘petrol head’ last week as Porsches, racing cars and Ducatis revved their engines and tooted their horns at the annual Wenona Car Show.
STEM Captain, Paige (Year 12) organised the Car Show for the second year running, with support from Director of STEM, Dr Alisha Thompson.
The whole School was bowled over by the wide diversity of cars and motorbikes on display this year, including a pink and grey Formula Renault race car, a red Ferrari convertible and a beautifully restored daffodil-yellow Morris Minor
“We began planning the event in Term 4 last year,” said Paige.
“I was pleased by the incredible diversity of brands, uses and ages of vehicles on display, with everything from race cars to recreational vehicles.
This enabled us to showcase different technologies to the students. For example, the braking system of the Formula Renault was quite basic being a disc brake with hydraulics, but the aerodynamic aerofoils included on the car are essential in its function of reaching high speed quickly and maintaining speed throughout turns.
In comparison, the Ferrari convertible - a recreational car - has ABS braking systems and advanced technology with sensors around the car. However, it has minimal aerodynamic features as the speed of the car is not a priority, but rather the safety of the driver.”
In the morning, 10 teams of Year 6 students competed in a practice round of the Solar Sprint Challenge.
The students have been working hard building their cars, with help and support from seven Year 10 STEM and Design and Technology students, who have been volunteering each Monday lunchtime to help the Year 6 students with the planning, constructing and soldering of their cars.
Mr Michael Richards, organiser of the UNSW Solar Sprint Challenge, came along to help run the race. He gave the girls a debrief about their cars and offered some tips about how they can improve on them before the big race on 7 September at UNSW.
In the afternoon, 11 Senior students attended a Car Maintenance workshop, learning how to change a tyre and check a car’s oil, coolant, windscreen washer fluid and brake fluid. Sarah (Year 12) and Chloe (Year 12) won the record for fastest tyre change – 4 minutes 56 seconds! The girls were astonished at how much fun they had at the workshop and said they’d gained some really useful, hands-on skills.
Earlier in the week, STEM Captains 2018/19, Paige and Elise, spoke in Assembly about what STEM is and what it can be. Alumna Matilda Longfield (2013py), who is doing a PhD in complex wound care at the University of Sydney’s Department of Medicine and Health, also addressed students, explaining how a French speaking soprano came to be undertaking a Doctorate in STEM-related field. The underlying message was that you don’t have to do Science in high school to do STEM later in life.
Paige spoke about the importance of stretching “ourselves past the perception possibilities, to believe in the impossible.”
"I often come up with crazy, passionate ideas only to share my ideas and be met with the consensus that ‘it’ll never happen’ or ‘it’s impossible.’ And whilst on some occasions they may have been right, frequently I made my idea possible because I did not believe in giving up on the impossible before trying first."
She said, “I am often told it is impossible to be both Prime Minister and a humanitarian engineer, but just because it has happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. Even if I don’t reach this goal I will reach many other impossibilities along the way."
Paige continued, "Whilst impossibility is the essence of our everyday lives, it is particularly evident in what we are celebrating this morning, and that is STEM. STEM is more than just Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, it is the belief in the impossible. It was impossible for Marie Curie, a scientist, to discover an element until she did. It was impossible for Elizabeth Blackwell to become a doctor until she did. It was impossible for Grace Hopper to build a computer until she did. So, I ask you to reach for the essence of STEM – changing our realities, reaching for the impossible and I leave you with a quote from anti-ageing pioneer and biomedical gerentologist Dr Aubrey de Grey: ‘Accept the difficulty of what you cannot yet change, but do not accept the impossibility of ever changing it.’”
Also at Assembly the Year 12 Science students came together to perform a hilarious musical item organised by Sarah.
In July, Dr Thompson will be accompanying 16 students in Years 9 to 11 to Lizard Island to collect data on the reef systems and coral recovery following the two massive bleaching events in 2016/2017. Watch this space!