Showing they have what it takes a second year in a row, Griffith High School’s (GHS) senior science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Club has won the Aeronautical Challenge for Bottle Rockets, this time on a national level.
Taking on and beating the other 73 schools at the University of Wollongong last week, year 11 boys Jaykumar Shah, Anthony Carusi and Andre Gumera were “ecstatic and surprised” to continue to hold the top place, which they won for GHS last year at the state level.
But it wasn’t without a bit of turbulence along the way.
One man down, the boys found themselves “scraping” along in the heats to make the next rounds, but with solid brainstormed efforts they continued finding solutions under pressure.
“I think it was the third round – we had fifteen minutes construction time and repair, and that’s when we decided, nope its not working, so we built a whole new rocket,” Andre said.
“We barley made it to top three then, just taking it out at 92 metres, and then we were in the Grand Final,” Jaykumar said.
The boys were pitted against the Tweed champions Murwillimbah High School and Sydney champions Fort Street High.
"We worked out why it wasn’t getting as far as we thought it should, because we built this same one last year too, and it was reaching 100 to 120m - we discovered the wings were not straight, they were slightly bent causing it to go sideways,” Anthony said.
“We quickly ripped off the wings and aligned them, ready for the final launch.”
“The other teams were very confident they would win, really really confident, but as soon as we saw our rocket launch – we were so excited, we were happy as!” Andre said.
With their final launch reaching 106 metres, their Mario-inspired rocket beat the competition by a good 14 metres.
Led by Head Teacher for TAS (Home Economics) and STEM Mr Ian Preston and Head Teacher for Science Ms Kylie Mullavey say GHS’ dedicated focus on STEM teaching and activities has certainly paid off for the boys.
“Griffith High School has once again confirmed its reputation as a STEM powerhouse with another strong performance,” Mr Preston said.
“We focus on inquiry based learning, collaboration and hands-on experience. These boys have been with me for the last three years now, and myself and Ms Mullavey are extremely proud of their achievement.”
The Australian Aeronautical Velocity Challenge is a STEM initiative was founded in 2014 with four pilot schools taking part. Since then, it progressed to a State championship last year and then continued on again to a national competition for 2018, with pushes made to one day take the initiative internationally.