World-beating Parra Marist STEM students

Parramatta Marist students with their impressive creation
Parramatta Marist students with their impressive creation

A team of Parramatta Marist engineering whiz kids came 30th in the world for their special project at an international schools event held in the United States last month.

The Destination Imagination event held in Tennessee attracted 8000 students from all over the world as students showed off their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) talents and innovative skills.

Marist Brothers sent two team of five members, with the engineering team particularly successful, placing 30th in the world by building a balsa wooden structure that could hold more than 360kg.

The team was required to design, build and test multiple freestanding structures that work together to support as much weight as possible.

Parramatta Marist Innovation and STEM co-ordinator Kelly Bauer said the Destination Imagination program is a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity through open-ended academic challenges in the fields of STEM.

Kelly said the two teams were successful competing on a world stage was a great learning experience for both teams

“International travel was another learning experience for our students, as small things like changing money and getting on flights on time while managing to get all of our props and costumes on board was a challenge,” she said.

“A great way to broaden the mindset of students is to offer them a global experience in learning, as our world gets smaller and our connections get greater, students who have the opportunity to meet and greet similar minds on the opposite of the world will experience a growth mindset beyond compare of those in a standard classroom.” 

For the Science Challenge dubbed Top Secret, the team was required to create and present a story about a secret mission, research and apply methods from cryptography and steganography to reveal secret messages and finally design and create a cryptographic device that encrypts and then decrypts a secret message which was given during the presentation.

For both challenges, the additional constraint is also applied that Parramatta Marist students needed to fit all of our presentation materials and devices within our suitcases to travel to the US.

“This was an interesting constraint, as the engineering team even had to build themselves a mini esky in order to ensure that there was no effect of the changing temperature and altitudes on the plane,” she said.

“They learnt that materials also have different weights at different altitudes (Tennessee being slightly different to Sydney) and also that there is an effect of humidity on balsa wood.

“If we develop and implement methods to allow students early evaluation and refinement of their end products then students are challenged to engage with the content more deeply in a practical way so that they can demonstrate their theoretical knowledge through quality practical work.”


Posted By Patrick Whiteley at 17/07/2017 10:10:14 AM

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