There will be celebrations across three Australian states this week to mark the participation of 100,000 students in the University of Newcastle's highly successful Science and Engineering Challenge.
Developed by the University's Faculty of Science and Information Technology and Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, the innovative program encourages high school students' interest in science and engineering.
Professor John O'Connor, Head of the University's School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, said the Challenge was established in 2000 as a way of boosting enrolment in secondary high school science and mathematics.
"Since its inception, the Challenge has grown from a local event to one involving more than 20,000 students from high schools across Australia each year.
"The participation of 100,000 students in the program demonstrates the wonderful success the Challenge has achieved throughout its 10 year history."
The Challenge is a partnership with Rotary, Engineers Australia and universities across Australia, and is sponsored nationally by the Australian Constructors Association.
Professor O'Connor said this support and a grant from the Australian Government has ensured the continued development and success of the program.
"The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research has provided one million dollars over two years to support both the Challenge and the University's SMART program, which delivers interactive science shows to school students.
"The support of the Australian Government is instrumental in supporting the future development of the programs," Professor O'Connor said.
The Challenge teaches students the value of teamwork and problem solving as they compete in a variety of activities including building bridges, making catapults, navigating virtual mazes and decrypting codes.
Celebrations will be held this week during Challenges in Cobar, NSW; Adelaide, SA; and Hervey Bay, QLD.
The Challenge has previously won the Engineers Australia National Engineering Excellence Award for the best engineering project in Australia.
The Adelaide Challenge will be held at the Adelaide Superdrome on 24 - 28 May. Opportunities for photos/vision will be available from 11am daily. Professor O'Connor is available for interviews in Adelaide on Monday 24 May. Contact: 0402 839 978.
The Outback Challenge will be held at Cobar on Tuesday 25 May. Opportunities for photos/vision will be available from 11am. Contact Bob Nelson on 0409 449 151 for further details.
Hervey Bay, QLD
The Fraser Coast Challenge will be held at Hervey Bay on Monday 24 May. Opportunities for photos/vision will be available from 11am. Contact Janet Ingle on 0417 040 441 for further details.