Annual STEM Schools Challenge

Is your school ready to find sustainable solutions to solve the challenges of urban development at Sydney Science Park?

STEM resources

What is the STEM Schools Challenge?

The Sydney Science Park CSIRO Urban Living Lab Schools Challenge is an authentic, real Project Based Learning (PBL) project that will have a definite effect on the planning of Sydney Science Park. The Annual Challenge has been designed in collaboration with NSW based schools to enable students to collaborate and develop concepts and innovations for sustainable, resilient, liveable towns and cities using Sydney Science Park as the centrepiece.

For Teachers

  • Engaged students working collaboratively to find a solution to a real 
problem or issue
  • An opportunity to work collaboratively with other schools
  • An opportunity to be acknowledged for the contribution to the planning of Sydney Science Park
  • A healthy challenge between classes or groups in the school which aims to increase the confidence of students while improving literacy skills
  • Fun in an educational way to satisfy the NESA syllabus requirements

For Students

  • Collaborate to problem solve a challenge question that revolves around a complex issue in the planning for infrastructure a Sydney Science Park
  • Learn communication and collaboration skills across different disciplines and different education systems
  • Develop confidence in research, innovation and commercialisation
  • Learn, through the challenge, the knowledge laid down by the syllabus statements relevant to each stage
  • The opportunity to connect to industry experts, researchers and scientists

Why be part of the STEM Schools Challenge

See what the challenge involves

Areas of focus

A selection of inquiry questions will be provided for each challenge area of focus. All areas will need to be addressed in the challenge, with an emphasis on the area and inquiry question that has been selected. The extent to which these focus areas are developed will depend on each school and their individual requirements. When undertaking the challenge and developing responses, consideration should be given to the traditional owners of the land, past, 
present and emerging.

Energy

How could Sydney Science Park maximise the potential for renewable energy generation? Examine the potential to utilise waste for energy purposes. Encourage residents to utilise innovative energy-saving devices to reduce energy load? Develop ways for all energy producers and users (i.e. home owners and businesses) to share energy to reduce the overall cost of electricity?

Water

How could Sydney Science Park provide a reliable and safe water supply to residents? Utilise water in innovative ways to meet the variety of needs for different stakeholders? Decrease the amount of stormwater leaving Sydney Science Park, while increasing resilience against floods, droughts and heatwaves?

Transport

How could Sydney Science Park cater for alternative transport options that meet futuristic needs? Provide transport options that have minimal impact on the environment? Encourage active modes within SSP all year round?

Health

How can Sydney Science Park ensure its residents can live healthy lives (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.)? Reduce the burden on the healthcare system by creating a culture of integrated technologies? Improve day to day living while also preparing for extreme events that cause health risks, such as pandemics, poor air quality and heat waves?

Heat

How can Sydney Science Park provide a reliable and safe water supply to residents? Utilise water in innovative ways to meet the variety of needs for different stakeholders? Decrease the amount of stormwater leaving Sydney Science Park, while increasing resilience against floods, droughts and heatwaves?

Circular Economy (waste)

How can Sydney Science Park incorporate repurposed materials into the design of the new precinct? Build infrastructure using materials that can be reused, repurposed or recycled in the future? Ensure wastewater and compostable waste can be recycled back into Sydney Science Park? Encourage residents to consciously reduce, repurpose and recycle their waste?

Agriculture

How can Sydney Science Park create novel spaces that can support urban agriculture and the production of local food? Develop mechanisms and appropriate maintenance that allow public spaces to be used for growing fruits, vegetables and herbs? Help to produce valuable food exports that could be transported by the new International Airport?

Key dates for 2022

Term 1

  • Site Visit & Planning Day for Teachers
    21st March 2022
    9:30am – 2:30pm
    @ Sydney Science Park

Term 2

  • Urban Living Lab Launch
    28th April 2022
    12:00pm – 2:00 pm
    @ Sydney Science Park
  • Field Work Day
    20th May 2022
    9:30am – 2:30pm
    @ Sydney Science Park

Term 3

  • Field Work Day
    18th August 2022
    9:30am – 2:30pm
    @ Sydney Science Park

Term 4

  • Cross Sectoral Teams Challenge
    14th September 2022
    9:30am – 2:30pm

Sydney Science Park downloads

Using the Sydney Science Park as a backdrop for the Annual STEM Schools Challenge, we’ve collated some background information and documents on the Sydney Science Park. You can use these throughout the challenge and for your own curriculum.

Phase 1

Choosing an area of focus

A selection of inquiry questions will be provided for each challenge area iof focus. All areas will need to be addressed in the challenge, with an emphasis on the area and inquiry question that has been selected. The extent to which these focus areas are developed will depend on each school and their individual requirements. When undertaking the challenge and developing responses, consideration should be given to the traditional owners of the land, past, present and emerging.

Phase 2

Think Tanks

A ThinkTank is a process that can be used to consider the factors that could be used to solve a problem or issue. We’ve included 2 downloads below, for how to run a think tank and also a table for generating ideas.

Phase 3

Field Work

Students and teachers will gain hands on experience undertaking a half day visit to the Sydney Science Park. They will work with industry experts in testing and validating their theories and learnings from the classroom through undertaking field experiments. The field day will offer the students and teachers an authentic experience using a real greenfield development opportunity to conduct research with industry experts to take their ideas from the classroom into practice at the Sydney Science Park.

Phase 4

Cross-School Team Challenge

The cross-school team challenge is the final component of the Sydney Science Park - CSIRO Urban Living Lab Annual STEM School Challenge. Selected teams from the participating schools will come together and be placed in cross-school teams. These teams will be provided with a final challenge on the day. The teams will be given half a day to develop a solution that will then be pitched to a panel of experts. The cross-school team challenge will conclude with a celebration and an official recognition of the most outstanding team’s solution to supporting developing a smart city of the future.

Helpful video links

Glossary of terms

Urban Living Lab

Urban Living Labs bring together local community expertise with trusted scientific expertise to try new ways of doing things and measure whether they work or not. Urban Living Labs operate in a real place and experiment on locally-relevant issues that produce real and robust outcomes. Smart Cities should also offer clean air to citizens and this could be done via air quality monitoring and prediction system. Source

Smart City

A smart city (also smarter city) uses digital technologies to enhance performance and well being, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. Key ‘smart’ sectors include transport, energy, health care, smart buildings, air quality, pollution, public security, municipal services, water and waste. Source

Circular Economy

A circular economy is about business models and practices that ensure sustainable materials management. Because of that a circular economy reduces primary material requirements, optimises processes and products for lower material and waste intensity. It therefore allows value adding to materials to occur multiple times across their life cycle. A circular economy transcends the traditional natural resource and waste intensive take-make-dispose economic model. In a circular economy natural resources are kept in circulation. This creates new economic opportunities and employment and has significant environmental co-benefits. Besides, it helps conserve natural resources and reduces emissions and waste. Source

Decentralisation

The movement of people, commerce or industry out of a city’s centre either naturally or deliberately by government policy.” Decentralisation may also involve the creation of nodal points which decrease the importance of the already established CBD. Source

Get involved in 2023

While the 2022 STEM Schools Challenge is now closed, we are talking to schools that wish to be involved in 2023. Enter your details below and we’ll contact you shortly to discuss your schools involvement.

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