At the biennial STEM festival Newington boys from Years 6–11 were treated to Nitrogen gelato, a trip to outer space, a nail-bitingly exciting science cook-off, and back-to-back presentations by some of Australia’s top science, technology, engineering and maths minds as part of the 2016 STEM Festival.
Months in the making and headed by Mr David McNaughton from the Design and Technology department, this year’s STEM Festival saw the collaboration of three different departments to curate a program that included activities that ranged from the hands-on to the inspired and whimsical.
Andrew Wang (11/FL) and Ricky Zheng (9/MO) said a talk on coding taught them that computers were in fact very “dumb” and that coding is the art of learning how to effectively give computers instructions so it could do what you tell them to do, which is not always what you want them to do.
UNSW Biochemist Merlin Crossley was another intriguing speaker who talked to Year 11 IB Biology about the very particular headache that faces researchers like him. Specialising in sickle cell anemia, Mr Crossley found out he was looking at the wrong protein after having completed twenty years of research. “In order to take the steps to finding a cure for a disease such as sickle cell anemia, you can’t just find new techniques to have a stronger ladder. You have to invent the spaceship,” he said.
Wyvern Year 6 Team Leader Ms Sara Ratner found the ‘Mathletics’ hosted by the funny presenters at Inquisitive Minds particularly impressive. “I have not seen them so engaged in challenging Maths problem solving for such a sustained period of time ever and they relished in the chance to work collaboratively – it was fantastic!” she said about her Year 6 class.
But the infectious nature of last week’s STEM program was not just felt by our boys as they moved from room to room. A Newington parent of Year 7 and Year 9 boys wrote to Mr McNaughton saying, “Each day my boys have come home from school full of excitement and information about what they have experienced in their STEM activities during the day. I think that the timing in the school year really works, as it has taken some of the pressure away from the upcoming exams and reminded them that learning can be fun!”
A big congratulations to Mr McNaughton and the Science, Design and Technology and Maths departments on hosting such a successful event!