By Craig Hingston, PHCS
Pacific Hills Christian School is building a reputation for high-performance outcomes when its students enter Science-Technology-Engineering-Maths competitions for the first time.
The trend started in 2019 when the Dural based School decided to compete in the international F1 in Schools STEM Challenge which tasks students with learning professional-standard CAD/CAM software, engineering formulae and manufacturing processes in order to design, make and race a miniature F1 car.
Calling themselves Frontier Racing, a team of Year 11 students won the NSW Finals and went to the National Finals where they earned a place in Team Australia at the World Finals. To go all of the way from rookie status to World Finals in the first year was a rare feat in the 16-year history of that competition.
In 2020 another team called Aberration was formed. In their first experience of racing against other schools they dominated the Regional Finals. At the recent NSW Finals, they finished second outright by recording high scores across the 11 judging categories. Most importantly, they had the fastest car and they were presented with the coveted Grand Prix Award. In March they will be packing their bags and heading south to the National Finals in Melbourne.
Special thanks go to teachers Gloria Quee and Greg Connolly for their support of the students in this exciting STEM program.
Meanwhile, Pacific Hills became involved in another global STEM competition: the FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge. This Challenge is about building, programming and competing with a robot, while also learning about a modern problem in science and engineering and developing solutions for it.
The group of Year 5 students – the “PAC Attack” – was up against 40 other teams and during their 30- minute session they impressed the judges with their outstanding project, confidence, innovative robot design and teamwork.
“We were awarded the second place Champions Award”, said Colin Jaques, Head of the Technologies Faculty, “This award celebrates a team that embodies the FIRST LEGO League Challenge experience by fully embracing our Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in Robot Performance, Robot Design and the Innovation Project. Given this was our first year entering the competition we were very happy with how they approached the competition with a fun and productive attitude." PAC Attack has qualified for an invitation-only Asia-Pacific showdown in 2021 as well as the World Event in Houston, Texas. “This is a huge achievement and a big shout out to Laura Wright [Head of the Science Faculty] for her assistance mentoring the students”, added Mr. Jaques.