Ryan Zhou,10 , Cody Brice,10, with first year aviation student Sean Rodgers.
Ryan Zhou,10 , Cody Brice,10, with first year aviation student Sean Rodgers. Cordell Richardson

USQ's paper plane challenge takes flight

Primary school students from Ipswich and surrounds took part in a 'pilot program' with a difference at USQ's Springfield campus this Wednesday.

The inaugural STEM Paper Plane Challenge saw over 60 students from schools including Augusta SS, Springfield Central SS, St Peters Lutheran College and Woodcrest SS create and fly paper planes under the mentorship of USQ's Aviation and Surveying students.

First-year Aviation student Sean Rodgers said that he hoped activities like this would help kids engage with and better understand the many practical applications of mathematics in the real world before they reached high school.

"A program like this would have been so helpful when I was younger. When I was going through primary school and high school, it was still very theoretical. What the kids are doing here is going to help them build their futures," he said.

Mr. Rodgers also noticed how students responded to seeing how small mathematical changes made to their paper plane designs made a big difference to the height and duration on each plane's flight.

Event Organiser Melissa Fanshawe said it was a chance to engage students in mathematics, developing their problem-solving and critical thinking in a hands-on environment.

"Part of this event is just about engaging students in the process of having an idea, testing it and then learning that it's okay to move on if it doesn't work. It's about building resilience in the students as well as mathematical skill," she said.

For participants Ryan and Cody, both 10, a real highlight was being able to throw paper planes as far and as high as they could manage in the large USQ auditorium. "I made my plane go all the way from the top of the auditorium to the bottom," Cody said.



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