For students taking STEM classes – the study of science, technology, engineering and maths – there was a chance on September 5th 2018 to push their learning further at the University of Southern Queensland.
The USQ Springfield campus was the backdrop to an intensive afternoon of paper plane folding, but it was the exploration of engineering and mathematics that really grabbed their imagination.
The challenge was set
Over 50 grade 5 and 6 students took part in the event, which saw them learning how mathematics, weight, measurements and numeracy impact the effectiveness of the humble paper plane.
In order to create a little healthy competition, the students were encouraged to draw on their newly-acquired mathematic and engineering knowledge in creating a paper plane that will defeat those made by their peers.
The students – hailing from educational institutions including Augusta State School, Springfield Lakes State School, St Peters Lutheran College, Woodcrest State College and Redbank Plains State School – found the experience illuminating.
“We know students who find maths engaging and fun are more likely to get involved, and what’s more fun than flying paper planes?” explained the event’s organiser Melissa Fanshawe, a lecturer in USQ’s School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood.
Woodcrest State College Year 5 student Hayley Gould said, “It was a really fun experience”
“I didn’t realise there is a lot more that goes into making a paper plane then folding. There are different techniques and designs you can try to make the plane fly better. There was also a lot of testing involved.”
In the end the competition’s results were determined with the aid of a little surveying know-how. There was no chance of the judges’ call being disputed with university surveying staff Jess Smith and Zahra Gharineiat on hand using the latest robotic technology to measure each plane’s distance.
The gateway to surveying
Exploring the practical side of mathematics and engineering through paper plane construction provides students with an exciting educational entry point to the field of surveying.
“This event really resonated with the children and we expect they will go back to their classes and share their experiences, which will hopefully inspire other children,” suggests USQ Head of School (Teacher Education and Early Childhood) Professor Stephen Winn.
“It also demonstrated to the children the links STEM and teacher education has with other areas of study such as aviation and surveying.”
With surveying gaining more of a presence in Queensland now that the Try Surveying brand has stepped out of the southern states and across the border, there’s never been a better time for students and teachers alike to dive deeper into the world of maths, engineering and surveying. This website contains lesson mathematic lesson plans that could further student’s exploration of this fascinating subject here – and students in grade 10 and up can explore work experience opportunities here.