Students from four local high schools put their aeronautical, electrical and structural engineering skills to the test on Monday at the Western Plains Science and Engineering Challenge.
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The annual four-day event - organised in partnership between the University of Newcastle and Rotary - sees primary and high school students compete in a series of hands-on challenges culminating in the classic bridge-build competition.
Day one of this year's challenge saw students from Dubbo College South Campus, St Johns College Dubbo, Mudgee High School and Narromine High School battling it out to see whose balsa wood bridge would come out on top.
Teams of four students were tasked with creating the lightest bridge they could to withstand the highest amount of weight.
"We wanted to use a lot of curves and triangles to even out the stress the weight will put on the bridge," one member of Mudgee High's bridge build team told the Daily Liberal.
"We used some cardboard in the middle and on the sides to strengthen some of the weak points on the bridge. The main quality of the bridge is that it's sturdy but it bends, so it won't snap."
In the end, Dubbo College South Campus won the bridge build with their triangular bridge weighing in at just 70 grams.
Tony Geraghty of South Dubbo Rotary, chair of the event's organising committee, said the aim of the event is to inspire students to consider a future career in science and engineering by showcasing aspects of these disciplines they wouldn't usually see in school.
"A number of people from some of the organisations that help us out like Inland Rail and Barnson went into scientific careers as a result of being exposed to an activity like this," he said.
The competition has been conducted in Dubbo every year since it began in 2000, except in 2020, when the pandemic forced its cancellation. Many of the activities - including the bridge build - have been challenging students for more than two-decades.
"I think they've stood the test of time, although people who volunteer regularly think they're a bit passe the fact of the matter is that for each group of kids that come through to do them find them challenging," Mr Geraghty said.
"There's some very innovative constructions here today that I haven't seen before - there's one where they've basically built a strut, rather than building a two-tiered structure, and another group has produced an arch bridge."
Other activities students took part in included creating codes to send secret messages, constructing towers able to withstand different seismic events, making a buggy able to pass over a rocky mars landscape and figuring out the most efficient way to wire a model city's electrical system.
"The University of Newcastle is always developing new activities - there is one here which is a new activity this time around which is a scheduling one," Mr Geraghty said
The event will run up until Thursday, with more high schools competing on Tuesday and a number of local primary schools taking part in "discovery days" on Wednesday and Thursday.
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