Last Wednesday 18th September, I had the absolute privilege of being a STEM Champion and MC at the very first STEM Challenge Day in Tauranga. This STEM Challenge Day was a fringe event of the main Tauranga STEM Festival which will be held on Durham Street on Saturday 12th October.

The STEM Champions and other volunteers gathered early at ACG Tauranga to finish setting up for the day. The first school teams arrived for registration from 8am, and by 9am we had 17 teams (10 students in each team) from all around the Bay of Plenty including Waipahihi School from Taupo and Waikino School from between Paeroa and Waihi.

ACG students Allie and Corin welcomed us to the award-winning three-level ACG Sports Complex and gave us the all important Health & Safety briefing. The Year 5-8 Challengers were excited and knew exactly what they were there for as they yelled out the meaning of STEM: (What does S stand for? Science! What does T stand for? Technology! E? Engineering! M? Maths!)

The morning kicked off with half the Challengers completing the STEM Challenges in the gym, while the other half completed other activities around the complex before switching at the whistle. Challenges included STEM Festival stations such as DNA Key-chains, Da Vinci Bridge, Plasma Ball, and Augmented Reality Sandbox. There was also a Robotics station by the Hippy Hacker.

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Other challenges were run by the University of Waikato including lolly sorting by Engineering, lightbot programming by Computer Science, and under water drone racing which was held outside in a temporary pool by the Coastal Marine Unit.

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I was in charge of running the Paper Plane activity, while fellow STEM Champions Tammy & Hanse ran the Experiment Table showcasing experiments from the Kitchen Science Cookbook, Regi was in the music room getting students to dub over animated videos, and Mai lead a Rubik’s Cube workshop.

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Other activities included planting and coding music by the ii team, House of Science activities, retro computing, a games room and the Amazing Travelling Photobooth.

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It was time for a break but lunch was definitely not boring with special guest Nanogirl setting Will from the Hits on fire while explaining the fire triangle (fuel, oxygen, spark). The Challengers then got to gleefully nominate a teacher to be set on fire.

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The afternoon brought rocket building and launching run by Matt Smith. We moved outside to launch the rockets from the middle of the sports field (a necessary precaution as these rockets blasted so high in the air they almost landed at the neighbors!)

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A huge thank you to all the STEM Challenge Day volunteers. In particular I want to thank:

  • ACG for allowing us to use their awesome facilities and thank you to the wonderful ACG Youth Ambassadors who helped run the day including set-up, pack-up, marshaling participants, running the STEMfest challenge stations and prepping the rocket building kits. ACG is an official sponsor of STEM Festival and has an engaging STEM programme that encourages students from a young age to get involved and enjoy the huge benefits of a STEM curriculum.
  • Kurt Cordice (Enigmatic) for guiding & supporting the STEM Champions in creating this STEM Challenge day.

I’m so happy to have been part of this amazing day and awesome group of STEM Champions. Our mission for the day was to engage, excite & empower the Challengers to embrace STEM as a way to shape their own future as well as to make the world a better place. I can’t wait for STEM Festival on Saturday 12th October – I will be helping with the interactive coding activities & laptop unmaking in Basestation which is sponsored by Datacom Tauranga & Venture Centre, organised by Kelly Williams & JuniorDev Tauranga.

Qi-Wern Lim

STEM Champions