Our Activities

The Science and Engineering Challenge conducts Challenge Days (for year 9-10 students) and Discovery Days (for year 5-6 students) in partnership with local organising committees right around Australia. This year, a total of eight activities are offered. Each activity is available, albeit in a slightly different form, for Discovery and Challenge Days. See below for the current suite of activities.

Each year one or two of the activities are replaced with new or refreshed ones. At a State/Territory Final, the activities are made a bit harder and students are not allowed to preselect. At the National Final, teams are randomly allocated to one or two of the eight secret activities! This means that the activities are always fresh and engaging.

Activities

Earthquake

Students will design and construct a tower from common materials. The tower will be tested for strength using small weights, under both static and seismic (shaking) conditions.

Get a Grip

Students design and operate a bionic hand that is dexterous and strong. Each team will build fingers and a thumb for the hand so that a number of tasks can be completed.

Get Over It

Students will build a light and strong model bridge inside a U-shaped cradle that can support a trolley carrying ‘gold’ ingots from one side of a test rig to the other. Points will be awarded for each successful crossing, with the number of ingots gradually increasing.

Light Comms

Students design efficient codes to send secret messages along fibre optic rods using pulses of coloured light. Teams are scored based on the accuracy in transmission of the message being sent.

Minipult

Students will build a miniature catapult (minipult) that can fire a projectile accurately and over a long distance. They will be provided with wooden sticks, rubber bands and masking tape.

Max Power

Students balance electricity supply and demand in a simulation of Max City. There are different power stations to choose from - including non-renewables like coal and renewables like solar power - but some cost more or are less efficient than others.

String-along

Students develop networks to join a series of towns together in the most efficient way possible. The higher the efficiency of linkage (ie. minimum travel distance) the more points each team earns.

Water Wheel

Students use commonly available materials to build a water wheel that can harness the power of water as it flows over it. The water wheel needs to be simple, robust and efficient.

Bridge

Students build a light and strong model bridge that can support a trolley carrying ‘gold’ ingots from one side of a test rig to the other. Lighter bridges earn more points than heavier bridges each time the trolley (and ingots) successfully crosses the gap.

Hover Frenzy

Students learn to design, build and fly a model hovercraft that is fast, manoeuvrable and maintains hover height over obstacles. These hovercraft needs to generate lift, while students carefully avoid obstacles by steering two rear propellers via remote control.

Confounding Communications

Students design efficient codes to send secret messages along fibre optic rods using pulses of coloured light. Teams are scored based on the accuracy and speed in transmission of the message being sent.

Future Power

The aim of this activity is to avoid a blackout in Future City by balancing energy needs from a range of power stations. Students must consider the costs and benefits of coal, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro, and gas power stations in order to ensure all infrastructure is supplied power at a profit.

Grasping at Straws

Students design and operate a bionic hand that is dexterous, strong and inexpensive. Each team will build fingers and a thumb for the hand so that a number of tasks can be completed.

Helter Skelter Shelter

Students design and construct two towers from common materials. The towers will be tested for strength using small weights, under both static and seismic conditions.

Stringways

Students develop networks to join a series of towns together in the most efficient way possible. The higher the efficiency of linkage (ie. minimum travel distance) the more points each team earns.

Turbine

Students use commonly available materials to build a water turbine that can harness the power of water as it flows over it. The turbine needs to be simple, robust and efficient.

Airship

Students construct an airship to successfully navigate various courses as quickly as possible. Teams will be scored based on the time taken to complete each course, the amount of marker posts hit, and the number of balloons used.

Babe Home Sheep Home

Students use ‘sheep dogs’ to push sheep into their home pens in the minimum number of moves. This becomes more difficult in later rounds as obstacles, gates and other perils are introduced.

Back to the Future III

Students design and construct a propeller from thin plastic, to accelerate and decelerate a ‘time machine’ as quickly as possible. Teams decide on the number of blades, their width, diameter and pitch.

Catapult

Students design and build a catapult using wooden dowel. Teams gain points for how far and how accurately their construction can launch a projectile. The catapult must employ a swinging arm, similar to a Mangonel-style catapult.

Crypto Cracking Cronies

Students are given a number of codes to crack, using common encryption methods, with points being awarded based on accuracy and speed.

Dish

Students build a receiver to home in and decode the signals from a star cluster. The star cluster is represented by a special frame of light-emitting diodes (LED’s).

Eco-Habitech

Students construct a model house that is subsequently tested for space, water catchment ability and wind strength properties. The value of the materials used and their carbon cost will also be taken into account.

ElectraCITY

Using a powered board, students connect various types of electrical cables to provide electricity to a city’s infrastructure at the lowest cost possible. This means carefully thinking about what type of electrical cables should be used and the way they are interconnected.

Flat Pack

Students design and build model furniture that is sturdy and cost effective to manufacture. The finished products will need to support 3D printed pets when they are sitting still and playing.

Flight

Students construct a Styrofoam glider that will be flown from a launcher. Through variations in the design of the fuselage, wings, tail, rudders, flaps, elevators and ailerons, students aim to build the best all-round aircraft.

Great Tea Race

Students design and make a boat hull to carry a cargo from one end of a towing tank to the other as quickly as possible. There are many factors that need to be taken into account such as the shape of the hull, placement of the cargo and the ability of the hull to hold its course.

Heli-Rescue

Students build a fixed arm helicopter to complete a number of rescue related tasks. They will need to consider damping the travel of the heli arm and determining the sensitivity of the pivot.

Job Juggle

The aim of this activity is to schedule tasks in the shortest possible time. Students are given a wooden planning board with blocks of different colours, each representing a task to be completed. Scores are awarded based on speed and length of the schedules designed.

Leprechaun Cannon

Students produce an air cannon using a rubber membrane and pipe fittings. The air cannon needs to be effective in terms of both distance and accuracy at knocking over objects.

Mission to Mars

Students build a suspension system for a Mars buggy that will allow a load to be safely conveyed across an undulating Mars surface. Points are awarded on the distance and time the buggy travels before the load falls off.

Puff Puff Golf

Students build a balloon-powered car from wheels, axles and a variety of consumable materials. The force of air escaping the untied balloon is used to propel the car.

Virtual Maze

The aim of this activity is to discover secret paths through a virtual maze. Teams are provided with a large checker board maze mat and must cross to the other side of the mat. Scores are based on number of attempts to cross the mat, minus any time-outs used.

Who Gets the Water

Students design and build pipe networks that will gravity feed water from header tanks to receiving tanks, sometimes via an intermediate flow tank. Scoring is based on both the time and accuracy of water transfer.

World Sailing Spectacular

Students design and construct a model boat that sails the length of the test tank in the shortest possible time. A wind generator supplies air movement. The fastest three runs will be used to calculate a final score.