Nationwide student engineering challenge debuts in Timaru

2019-06-11 04:41:55

Constructing an elevator and building a lightning rod are just two of the challenges facing local students as part of the EPro8 Challenge, a nationwide science and engineering event for schools which has come to Timaru for the first time.

Hosted at Bluestone School, on Tuesday and Wednesday, 30 teams of four students are taking part in the challenge with each team provided with a selection of equipment including gears and pulleys, nuts and bolts, tools, motors and electronics, along with a booklet of challenges.

Each challenge is worth a different number of points depending on their difficulty and the team must choose which tasks they think they can complete within a two and a half hour timeframe to earn the most points.

"It's a different sort of learning," challenge founder Kelvin Thiele said.

"You're not telling the kids 'this is how you solve the problem', we're giving them enough to point them in the right direction but the point is to go 'here's some information but there's some holes in the information I've given you, try to solve the problem'."

Thiele has a background in engineering and running sporting events but wanted to create something that challenged students' engineering skills as well as building team work, he said.

The event began as a single event in Wellington in 2015 and has expanded to more than 900 events nationwide.

After a successful event in Ashburton last year, with many Timaru schools in attendance, and with the support of Alpine Energy, the organisers were able to set up a separate heat in Timaru in which 17 schools are competing.

"We're using the space of engineering because that's what I'm about but it's really transferrable. Schools are right in behind it, that's the head space now and that's why we have 900 schools taking part."

A trophy is awarded to the winning Timaru team and the top Timaru teams will take on the top Ashburton teams in the semi-finals on August 14.

The Canterbury Grand Final will take place on August 28 at the University of Canterbury.

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