Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The BP Science Technology Challenge

I love seeing children take on creative thinking challenges, and The BP Challenge for primary and secondary students held today at Villa Maria Girls School was a wonderful example of this. The categories were the same for both primary and secondary.
Challenge 1: Creating a waterproof shelter for two people that can withstand some wind, using only the materials provided (newspaper, tape and crayons). Students were allowed to practice for this challenge before the day.
Challenge 2: The Ginger beer challenge. All contestants had to bring in home-made ginger beer, with all the packaging and a portfolio. I was honoured to be a judge and after tasting 25 home-made ginger beers my stomach was feeling a bit wobbly. Thanks to all those students for their hard work and interesting flavours.
Challenge 3: The surprise challenge was for each team of four to get a message in a film canister over a wall and be retrieved by on the other side again using only the materials provided (newspaper, tape, rubber bands, string and a film canister). There were many really creative solutions, but I was particularly impressed with the students perseverance and engagement. A long and exciting day.

The primary school turnout was disappointing, only four schools entered. I believe schools need to receive printed information packs as well as emails and websites. This year they tried only send emails, and although a big supporter of digital media, I do believe that printed media is still a vital part of literacy and the real world. Secondly, I believe that science and technology are often treated as token curriculum areas. Do you know that many of the 21st century skills were first used by scientists.

The primary school challenge will be open to Years 5-8 and can be mixed age teams. So this is a call to all primary school teachers for the 2009 BP Challenge. It is an engaging event that encourages creative thinking and can be integrated into many curriculum areas.
Same time next year, come have some fun learning.
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