In 2022 we had outstanding success at the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools STEM MAD (Making A Difference) competition with our team heading to Adelaide in April as guests of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation. This year we were able to enter three teams selected from a field of 300 entries to display their projects at the Showcase Day.

The Showcase Day was a great opportunity for our Year 8 teams to see the work of like-minded peers across the state and to spend a day with a wide community of STEM enthusiasts. Over the course of the day, we saw the students move from anxious to confident as they explained their projects – over and over – to teams of judges.

One team presented an innovative idea for roads that can capture kinetic energy from moving cars as piezoelectricity and use it to power communities. Another team explored how coffee grounds could be used to draw salt from soils that are too saline – a huge problem in Australia. The third team looked at the feasibility of using an energy neutral system to benefit the wellbeing of astronauts on the International Space Station. This project explored how exercising on bicycles could not only help the astronauts maintain muscle strength but also power special lights to grow fresh salad vegetables to supplement their unappealing astronaut foods.

In a different STEM challenge, a team of Year 9 students are currently designing a fabricated coral structure embedded with salts that are endothermic as they dissolve and can form a buffering system to counter both increasing ocean temperature and acidity. These structures would be embedded with sensors that could provide live information on coral health to an app to help keep boats away from more vulnerable coral beds.

Our best wishes to the teams participating in the STEM MAD National Showcase on Thursday 9 November and the BrainSTEM Innovation Challenge on Thursday 16 November.

Dr Susan Long
Science Learning Leader