| 27 January 2023

Promoting STEM in Newcastle schools

Increasing public recognition of engineering and encouraging young students to consider engineering as a career path is a strategic priority of Engineers Australia’s.

In Newcastle, Engineers Australia hosts a number of events with local schools throughout the year to inspire a love for STEM subjects and an interest in studying engineering. One of these events is the annual Straw Tower competition. It's a hands-on activity that encourages students in years four to six to think about engineering through a creative and fun project.

In December 2022, Engineers Australia held its first Straw Tower competition since 2019 with the help of local office bearers David Sparkes, Tim McLennan, Jo Lever and Jo Withford who judged the event.

Students in teams were given the task of constructing the lightest tower using only plastic drinking straws and glue. Teachers, parents and grandparents were welcomed back to watch and support.

A total of 25 teams, from eight local schools, competed over a couple of hours in the  morning. The winning tower was from Islington Public School and supported 7,800 grams, determined on the highest load-to-weight  ratio (the lightest tower to hold the most weights).

Engineers Australia’s Newcastle General Manager Helen Link organised the event. She said it was a joy to be able to run this kind of hands-on event again and to watch students get excited about the profession.

“It’s really important for Engineers Australia to foster this curiosity for engineering in the next generation, to ensure we’re creating a pipeline of future engineers that can support Australia’s growth and development.”

“Hands-on activities are a great way to show students that there are fun sides to engineering and that it is as much about creative thinking as it is about excelling at maths or science,” Link said.

Engineers Australia Newcastle participates in many similar activities including careers expos, school visits and information evenings for students to encourage them to take up STEM subjects and consider engineering as a career choice.

The team is planning a Girls Talk event for 26 May 2023, which will give young women a chance to speak to engineers about their experiences as women in the industry.

There is also a Discovering Engineering event scheduled for 22 June 2023, which will enable school students to learn about the profession.

If you would like to be involved in any of these activities, please contact the office at [email protected]