While students from Seymour College managed to place both second and third overall in the RACV Energy Breakthrough held in Maryborough recently, engineering teacher David Stute said it’s more about learning skills than competition.
The RACV Energy Breakthrough provides opportunities for students, teachers, parents and local industry to work together to design and construct a vehicle, a machine or innovation in technology that will represent an ‘energy breakthrough’.
The program encourages participants to examine and use the latest technology while considering its impact on the environment and the way people live locally and globally, with school groups working throughout the year to design, build and test vehicles or machines within detailed specifications. It requires a team effort and an across-the-curriculum approach.
These groups then bring their vehicles and machines to Maryborough, in the Central Goldfields Shire, for a celebration in which they can demonstrate and trial them in action.
Mr Stute, who has been involved with the program through Seymour College for the past decade, said he decided to take a back seat this year and allow the students to do most of the work.
‘‘We use recycled steel, and a lot of the stuff was donated — that’s on the new bike this year,’’ he said.
‘‘All the skins of the bikes are corflute, which was second-hand material from one of the sign writers, so the kids cut that out and shaped it, stuck it all on. They made all the windscreens, and the wheel covers — so basically the week before we had a couple of working bees to get them up and running.’’
Part of the event, Mr Stute said, is a presentation where the students speak in front of three judges, giving them a chance to practise their public speaking skills.
‘‘They speak about design, construction, safety and materials. It involves the whole team standing around the bike — the mechanics get in and they go through the bike and make sure it’s safe and that it stands up to race standard ... while also questioning the kids on their knowledge.
‘‘We pride ourselves on being built not bought — a lot of other schools just buy the bike and hand it to the kids. But we build it from scratch, so that’s why the kids know all about how they work.’’
Following the presentation, Mr Stute said his students got stuck into the main event — an eight-hour race.
‘‘They basically stay on the track for eight hours straight, riding as fast as they can, and when they’re buggered, they get out and the next kid comes in,’’ he said.
‘‘The track is 1.1km, and they’re doing it in around two-minute laps, so they’re moving pretty quick.
‘‘It’s all about them learning about their bodies, and how far they can push themselves, and the recovery. So the PE department plays a big part in their training, as does the English department, helping with their speeches.
‘‘The track is part of the street — it starts off on a bitumen track around their football ground, then it goes out onto the streets, where they’ve blocked everything off. There’s about 5000 to 6000 kids there, and so camping is another part of the experience.’’
Mr Stute said while the program is currently set up for students to come into the workshop to work on the bikes during lunchtime and after school, he hopes to get it into the school curriculum, so that Seymour College would have a ‘Maryborough’ elective.
In the meantime, Mr Stute was all smiles after another successful year of the energy breakthrough program, and wanted to thank Seymour College team’s sponsors — Pucka Fruit and Veg, the Credit Union, Burgess Signs, Budget, McDonald’s, Seymour Coaches, Neil Beer, Rotary, and the Lions Club.