The sky was the limit at Woolomin Public on Friday as students from eight schools across the region put their aeronautical skills to the test.
The school hosted the region’s inaugural Aeronautical Velocity Challenge, and there was no shortage of imagination as the kids split into groups of four to not only design, but also decorate their own bottle rockets.
BAE instructing pilot Ian Jones, AVI skills chief Russell Hodgkins, and local licensed aircraft engineer John Press were all on hand to accurately judge the rockets, measure the flights, as well as give some handy hints and tips to the teams following the first round of launches.
Mr Jones measured the best flight in the opening round to be 33m, before the students took another 45 minutes in the workshop to refine their designs, while some scrapped their prototypes completely and started again, before the final launch after lunch.
Mr Press was very impressed with some designs, while others may have needed a little work.
“There was some aerodynamic and some acrobatic designs,” he said
“Programs like this are great because it really puts the classroom into practical use, and the kids go away understanding why they do things in school. Once that clicks, away they go.”
Woolomin teacher, coordinator, and launch pad operator Kimberley Nagle applied and won a $20,000 grant to run the program on behalf of the Winanga-Li Learning Alliance, formed between the five small schools of Woolomin, Attunga, Currabubula, Somerton and Duri.
The alliance then formed a science committee who are looking to spend the grant money over a three year plan of increased engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
“This is an Australia wide competition that is looking to address shortages of scientists and engineers, and it is also just a lot of fun,” Mrs Nagle said.
“We have been learning a lot about forces relating to flight lately because the kids have been so excited about it.”
The key to the Velocity Challenge is in how it is judged, with flight only one aspect of performance.
“The kids are also marked on their design and how they explain those choices to the judges, as well as how they supported other teams and on leadership,” Mrs Nagle said.
The team that was voted by teachers as being the most supportive of other teams won a joy flight from BAE, while the winners of both the junior and senior competitions all won a drone each.
The winning teams in both categories also won a ticket to the state final in Wollongong next week.