The first time they came third, last year they won – how far will they fly this Sunday? Nine senior Design and Technology students of Parkes Christian School will once again be competing at the 2018 Moomba Birdman Rally in Melbourne on Sunday.
The Year 11 and 12 students have lofty standards to live up to after winning the Flying Class section last year. “We managed to fly 11 metres, which was enough to take out the trophy for longest flight of the day,” said Design and Technology teacher Jason Wynstra. “It was such a buzz to come away with the win and the students are really excited to try and defend their title this year.”
First intended as a fun way for Design and Technology students to engage with their classwork in a practical way, the students now take the competition very seriously. “A major component of the Design and Technology syllabus is problem solving, so I thought this competition would be a great opportunity to explore that,” said Jason.
The problem they need to solve is how to construct a glider light enough to fly into the river off a small platform, but sturdy enough to safely support a pilot. “Watching the students come up with creative ways of solving this problem is just so satisfying as a teacher,” said Jason. “They use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills to help them create a top-quality aircraft.”
While making the 10-hour trip from Parkes to Melbourne may seem like a lot, the school is more than happy to take part and provide a unique experience for its students. “We’re the only school in NSW taking part in the rally,” said high school coordinator Greg Ballantyne. “We are committed to providing real-world experiences for our students rather than just burying them in textbooks and theory. It’s a far better way for students to learn and they share an experience they will never forget.”
According to Greg there might be more exciting projects on the way for the school. “We have a project that Google is very interested in, and another that I have to keep under wraps for now,” he said. “But when that one hopefully takes place later this year, it will be out of this world!”
As the event is a charity fundraiser too, the PCS team is supporting Currajong Disability Services this year. If you would like to sponsor them, go to https://birdmanrally.gofundraise.com.au/page/JasonWynstra