Trinity Catholic College is preparing to defend its title at the Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge at Southern Cross University tomorrow (Friday, June 27).

The Lismore school came first in last year’s challenge and went on to win the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers Super Challenge before finally coming fourth in the Australian Grand Challenge against teams from around the nation

The Challenge, which is hosted by Southern Cross University’s School of Environmental Science and Management in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Alstonville and the University of Newcastle with support from a range of business sponsors, aims to increase students’ interest in science, technology and engineering through a series of fun activities.

The Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge will see students from Alstonville High School, Casino High School, Lismore High School, Richmond River High School, Southern Cross K-12, Tenterfield High School, Trinity Catholic College and Woodenbong Central School compete to go through to the regional and national finals.

Students will try their hand at code cracking, electronic, mechanical and construction activities including ‘Gold Fever’ in which students construct the lightest bridge possible to hold the heaviest load, and ‘Catapult’, which involves building a device to launch a tennis ball the furthest possible distance.

Head of science at Trinity Catholic College Joe Grogan said the Challenge was a worthwhile day that was popular with students.

“We have had no shortage of students keen to volunteer for the team – it’s a fun event that has had very positive feedback from students in previous years,” said Mr Grogan.

“From an educational perspective, the activities are outstanding.

“They encourage creativity and independent scientific exploration and make the Challenge a very good complement to the first hand investigation element of the Board of Studies Program.”

Michael Whelan, from the School of Environmental Science and Management at Southern Cross University, said the Challenge aimed to enthuse students about the area of science.

“The school students of today will eventually go on to make career choices that will affect the future supply of workers qualified in the field of science,” said Mr Whelan.

“Events like this that make science fun and exciting are critical for helping young people develop an interest in science, and have the potential to motivate them to take their studies further in the future.”

The Rotary Club of Alstonville has played a key role in the event, providing volunteers, co-ordinating sponsorship and providing barbecue meals for all attendees.

Local businesses and other organisations have also been very supportive with generous sponsorship received from Northern Meat Co-op, Northern Rivers Echo, Engineers Australia, Richmond Waste, Rous Water, Environmental Analysis Laboratory (SCU), Country Energy, Rothwells ‘Think Water’, Metgasco, Frank Spinaze, Wollongbar TAFE, Duraplas, NSW Sugar Milling Co-op, and Ballina Shire and Lismore City councils.

The Science and Engineering Challenge will be conducted at Southern Cross University Gymnasium on Friday, June 27.