The Crossing Theatre was buzzing with ideas and innovation as primary and high school students from across the district gathered to take part in the Rotary Club of Narrabri North West Science and Engineering Challenge.

The annual initiative encourages students to exercise their science, technology, engineering and math skills by taking part in a series of fun and practical experiments.

SEC is a nationwide STEM outreach program presented by the University of Newcastle in partnership with communities, Rotary clubs, universities and sponsors.

Narrabri Rotary Club members also cooked up their famous barbecue lunch for the students, to ensure they didn’t have to think and create on an empty stomach.

Rotarian and key organiser Bruce Pyke said it was fantastic to see so many schools involved in the 2022 event from Gunnedah to Coonabarabran, Moree to Wee Waa.

“I’m passionate about encouraging students because I’m a scientist,” said Mr Pyke, a member of the Rotary Club of Narrabri which organises the action-packed challenge.

“One of our Rotarians kicked it off in the early 2000s and now it would be the biggest STEM event for whole school groups in the North West.”

Mr Pyke praised the volunteers, including Narrabri High School Year 11 and 12 students who helped on the two Discovery Days, and all the sponsors for making such a great event possible in the

“Without them, it wouldn’t happen,” he said.

Mr Pyke is also well supported by his wife Joan Pyke, a popular former vet who has a keen interest in nurturing students’ STEM talents.

The Science and Engineering Challenge conducts Challenge Days for Year 9 and 10 students and Discovery Days for Year 5 to 6 students in partnership with local organising committees.

Mr Pyke said experimenting, learning to fail and finding solutions through teamwork were all critical to students achieving success in the STEM space.

“A lot of the kids come from properties so are very practical, which is great. They think things through, and all these activities require different strengths – they need to work as a team.”

The students’ activities included a range of challenges, from designing and operating a bionic hand to the building of a light and strong model bridge.

Mr Pyke said one of the highlights of this year’s event was seeing two small schools – Burren Junction Public School and St John’s from Baradine – join forces to win the Discovery Day challenge on Wednesday, June 15.

The Discovery Day winners on June 14 were students from St Lawrence’s Catholic Primary School in Coonabarabran and the Science and Engineering Challenge winners on Thursday, June 16 were students from Coonabarabran High School.

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