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Defending Wenona from COVID Zombies!

The threat of a COVID Zombie apocalypse was enough to inspire Dr Thompson’s Year 10 STEMinists to build catapults capable of defending themselves and their fellow students!

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Defend Wenona from the COVID Zombies! This was the challenge that Dr Thompson gave her Year 10 STEM students at the start of term. As she explained to them, “COVID Zombies are trying to infiltrate Wenona. A virus has spread around the world turning all those infected into COVID spreading Zombies who won't wear masks. To prevent Wenona from becoming infected, we must keep the Zombies away from a distance. Wenona remains the last stronghold and is relying on its amazing STEMinists to protect it. Should we fail, these COVID Zombies will take over the School, spreading disease and destruction!”

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Not liking the idea of shambling ghouls on site, ready to chomp everything in their wake, our Year 10 STEMinists got to work. Using their knowledge of projectile motion, they began researching catapult designs.

The STEMinists had to provide supporting documentation that clearly demonstrated their design process, including research, evidence of mathematical calculation and modelling. Using their research, they then had to ideate, design and build a catapult capable of launching a projectile accurately.

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Using recycled household objects – think milk cartons, cardboard boxes, ice-lolly sticks, string, and glue – the catapult had to be no bigger than 30 x 30 x 30cm. And it had to be capable of launching a projectile into a small Tupperware container. Working independently, they each developed a catapult capable of accurately launching a 20g mass projectile as far as it could go. Some students researched how to launch a heavier projectile over 3 metres.

Fortunately, the return to school meant that our STEMinists were able to model their inventions to their fellow students – working outside the Allawah Centre, where they effectively wiped out all COVID Zombies in one fell swoop (or several)!

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Using data analysis, they then spent time calculating the motion of their projected objects in order to evaluate the success of their designs. Our STEMinists then engaged in peer review, looking at two other designs to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses compared to their own design.

We are so grateful to our STEMinists for saving us from a Zombie apocalypse!