Building Bridges: Year 7 STEngineers
Inspiring girls into STEM is something that many teachers at Santa Maria are passionate about. One of the subjects that is offered to our students, to encourage a passion for STEM subjects, is Year 7 STEngineers.
Students in this class have been busy at work this term. One of the assessments the girls have been completing is the bridge challenge, where they must work through the engineering process to create a bridge that fits certain requirements.
We spoke to Science teacher, Julianne Haggerty, to find out more about this exciting class and what the bridge challenge involves.
What is STEngineers?
STEngineers is an elective in Year 7 where the girls are given challenges to solve and must do so within specific parameters, including materials and dimensions. They learn about the engineering design process from the initial problem to brainstorming, designing and testing and redesigning their project.
What is the aim of the bridge challenge?
The students were asked to design a traffic and pedestrian bridge for the hypothetical Perth Olympics 2054. They researched different types of bridges and then developed their design from there.
How long have the students been working on their bridges?
So far, they’ve been working on their bridges for six lessons, and they will probably have about three more classes next term.
Are there any rules for the challenge? If so, what are they?
The challenge parameters are that the model bridge needs to span 50 cm, be no wider than 11 cm, and be aesthetically pleasing. The materials are three hot glue sticks, string, craft glue and pop sticks. The girls have found it challenging to be restricted to three hot glue gun sticks, but they’ve adapted and chosen to use craft and hot glue to create their bridges.
We spoke to a few students to find out how they found the project and if there were any challenges they had to overcome. Here’s what they had to say:
We found the project quite fun, and it helped us build our collaboration skills. It has expanded our knowledge of different bridge types, and we have really enjoyed it. Our group was a bit behind at the beginning, however we managed to create a working system within our group that had everyone doing something, and it sped up the process. Emily McCarthy and Ruby Williams
The STEngineers bridge project has been amazing to learn how engineering is part of our everyday life, from buildings to roads to the bridges we drive over. In a team, we tested different approaches for our bridge and learned the best ways to make it stable. As a team, we first used materials that weren’t strong enough, such as craft glue. We adapted to try other materials, like hot glue and succeeded on our second attempt. This taught us about using the right materials for the task. Mia Dale
We found this project very fun and quite challenging because of the limited resources we had to use. It was good to get to work in groups and put all our ideas together on how to make the most stable and usable bridge. We had challenges with getting the car over the bumps from the pop sticks. We fixed this by putting a horizontal pop stick on it with hot glue, to make a mini ramp for the car.
Georgia Jenzen, Lauren Nolan and Elisa Pratheesh
Fantastic bridges girls! We can’t wait to see where your passion for STEM takes you in the future.