Introducing STEM to the Extracurricular Programme at Dilworth Junior Campus

For eight Year 7 and 8 budding engineers at Dilworth Junior Campus, their first taste of STEM as an extracurricular activity has proved to be incredibly successful, qualifying them for an Inter-school competition in November.

Motivated to try something new and teach Dilworth students about creative problem-solving, Dilworth Science Teacher Mr Tim Chan introduced EPro8 as a new extracurricular activity at the Junior Campus.

“The boys at Dilworth are filled with creativity and love working practically to solve problems. Epro8 gives them an opportunity to do that and gives them the chance to compete against other schools in this unique event,” explains Mr Chan.

The EPro8 Challenge is an inter-school science and engineering competition. Every year, over 10,000 students from 800 schools from throughout New Zealand take part.

Commencing in Term 1, the Dilworth Junior Campus students met every Tuesday afternoon in the Science Room. They completed a variety of engineering challenges including creating a bridge that can span 2.5m and hold 2kg weight, a fire engine with a motorised crank ladder and a robot guard dog with a wagging tail and moving jaw.

Seeing the boys learn and grow their passion for all things STEM has been a highlight for Mr Chan.

“The student engagement and their excitement to tackle new challenges has been a huge highlight. With the 20kg kit that had over 450 parts provided by Epro8, students are able to build literally anything and have the tools to bring their vision to life,” said Mr Chan.

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In Term 3, as the students started to build and work on their qualifying challenge, they spent two afternoons a week on the project often putting in extra hours to finish off the challenge. Just before the nationwide lockdown, the students submitted their work for the qualifying round. They were tasked with creating a scaled down landmark that can fire party-poppers. This was sent in to be judged and their construction qualified them for the Auckland Inter-school event in November.

For Dilworth’s EPro8 Challenge team captain LeBron Ah Young who is also the Junior Campus Head Boy, a highlight of the experience has been seeing their finished product and realising they built these amazing structures themselves.

“I think the end result was the highlight of the challenge for me. Looking back at what we had created was really nice as I knew that it was built using our hands and our minds.”

Despite the highlights however, the experience came with its fair share of challenges that LeBron and the team learnt to navigate.

“I felt like the most challenging thing about the experience was learning to work together as a team. It was hard when we were all trying to work on the same thing and we would sometimes leave out important parts.”

Mr Chan hopes the experience will encourage the students to realise the potential career pathways for them in STEM and develop life-long skills that will serve them well into the future.

“I hope the boys involved in the EPro8 challenge this year will be encouraged to “dream big” when it comes to careers in STEM and aspire to be engineers, mathematicians, architects, scientists and project developers. I know they have developed skills that they wouldn’t often get the chance to pick up in a regular classroom setting and my hope is that the experience has provided them with the tools and the environment to further extend their passion,” explains Mr Chan.

He hopes to continue running the EPro8 challenge in the future and encourages Junior Campus students curious about STEM to sign up.

“If you like building things, solving problems and can work well with others, then Epro8 challenge is for you.”

September 15, 2021