A SENSE of mission is developing among science students from Lismore High School. They are about to defend the title they won last year in the Northern Rivers Science and Engineering Challenge.
Held at Southern Cross University today and tomorrow (Thursday June 7 and Friday June 8), the challenge is hotly contested this year by 15 Northern River high schools, with a record 480 students taking part.
In the course of two days, the students will be applying their ingenuity, creativity and engineering skills to tasks such as building a load-bearing bridge, constructing a hovercraft or a space vehicle, building an earthquake-proof tower or creating a car whose only propellant is a deflating balloon.
They'll be given all the materials - paddle-pop sticks, sticky tape, paper and balsa wood; and working in teams of four, will either do a half-day or a full-day project.
There'll be 32 students from Year 9 and 10 at Lismore High School, and science teacher, Jim McInerney.
"We've had very little time to prepare for it this year," Mr McInerney told The Echo.
"The students are in the middle of exams, tests and assignments, and teachers are working up to writing their mid-year reports.
"But we've got a few periods coming up we can spend on developing some ideas."
Mr McInerney said the group of 32 students who wanted to take part broke up into teams of four.
Year 10 student Sacha Borowski-Davies was in the Lismore High team that won last year's challenge in Lismore, and came second when they went on to the state heats in Coffs Harbour.
"I like the teamwork with the people in the group," Sacha, who wants to study robotics engineering at university, said.
"And once you get into the competition at the uni, you know you have four hours to complete the task.
"It's up to you how you set up your timing to get it done.
The Science and Engineering Challenge is hosted each year by Southern Cross University and the Alstonville Rotary Club with support from local businesses.