Putting students in the driver’s seat

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Year 8 students Brock Stinson and Paige Foley at the launch of Penrith Christian School’s new STEM project last week. Photo: Megan Dunn

The next Henry Ford or Edward Holden could come from Penrith Christian School as students begin a six month program where they will design and build their own model solar car.

Last Thursday saw the launch of the school’s newest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program where Year 8 students engage in STEM subjects in an innovative and enriching manner.

STEM Project Manager, Corrine Robinson, said the day is an attempt to overcome a nationwide challenge to motivate young people to choose science and mathematics subjects at school.

“As a mathematician, I’m keen for the kids to be a part of the project and see the use of math beyond paper,” Ms Robinson said.

“The project is about engaging students in STEM subjects and starting some enthusiasm for STEM and get students thinking about enrolling in STEM subjects in senior school.

“We especially want to help increase the number of girls in STEM-based careers.”

Students look over solar cars at Penrith Christian School last week. Photo: Megan Dunn

The project is a partnership with Sydney University and launched with a range of cars, including hybrids, sports, antiques and hot rods on display at the school.

The excitement seems to be already producing results with student Paige Foley thinking about how this experience will help her in the future.

Journalist Emily Newton interviews students. Photos: Megan Dunn

“It’s been really fun, I think it’s cool that we’re not just stuck in the classroom to do work and we can go outside and explore,” she said.

Paige said she plans on using the project to help her future career path.

“I’m really excited, I want to do advertising when I get older, and I really get to practice that and put it into a real life perspective here,” she said.

Classmate Brock Stinson is already planning the perfect car.

Students at Penrith Christian School last week. Photo: Megan Dunn

“I’m a big car person, so I’ve been really excited about this for a while,” he said.

“When they said you have to come up with a design, I had about 50 images flash through my head.”

The project takes kids out of the classroom and offers a unique challenge.

“It’s really different to what we’re used to, I think it’s a very valuable experience. It’s definitely something that a lot of other schools wouldn’t get to experience,” Brock said.

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