Way too much fun to be a lesson

CONTRAPTION: Year seven students Adel Phelong, Matilda Thornton and Bethany Woods with their ping pong roller coaster contraption.
CONTRAPTION: Year seven students Adel Phelong, Matilda Thornton and Bethany Woods with their ping pong roller coaster contraption. Christian Morrow

MULLUMBIMBY High School's first combined STEM class for the year looked too much like fun to be a lesson.

The school Library was buzzing with excitement as two year 7 classes drew plans, built towering structures of cardboard, rolled ping pong balls to and fro, took photos and made videos.

It was all about bringing together Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines into one practical problem solving lesson.

"The lesson draws on skills and knowledge from those four subjects areas to help the students solve real world contextual problems,” said head teacher of Technology and Applied Studies (TAS), Kelly Spillstead.

"Our new year 7 cohort come from so many different feeder schools so this is also an ideal way for them to build new friendships and establish collaborative relationships around problem solving skills,” she said.

"This week's challenge was to build a ping pong ball run that included a tower structure, a run to carry the ball with a free fall drop into a cup plus the most successful run would be the slowest run.

"They are designing structures, looking at time and directional flow and documenting the process in still photographs and slow motion video. The results will be processed using their technology skills and presented using visual media and other Google applications.

"This first project was relatively simple but the problems will become more complex over time.”

Computer teacher David Steedman said many of the students who would usually not be interested in mathematics were deeply engaged in the project.

"They love what they are doing and even with two classes combined in the one space every student is totally engaged in working towards an out come.

Ms Spillstead the STEM program would continue in Year 8 and if successful become part of HSC studies.

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