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Fast-cars in schools: a CADET Outreach initiative

Version 3 2024-06-18, 05:52
Version 2 2024-06-04, 12:04
Version 1 2017-12-21, 12:17
conference contribution
posted on 2024-06-18, 05:52 authored by John LongJohn Long, L Collins, J Steinwedel, J Sautner, S Cavenett
In order to provide for Australia’s long-term needs for engineers, it has become apparent that the profession needs to promote itself to school-age children. This is so that the seeds of interest in engineering are planted early enough so that they can grow. Recent research indicates that this can be most effectively done in primary schools. Students tend to decide whether they have an interest in STEM fields before secondary school. The Centre for Advanced Design and Engineering Training (CADET) was established as a facility for educating engineers, starting in primary school and providing facilities and expertise all the way to doctoral studies. One key component of CADET’s mission is to provide outreach programs in engineering to students in both primary and secondary school. A primary-school outreach program was developed to give students an authentic engineering experience in the context of developing a small racing car and working with an associated cross-disciplinary team. The program was designed to be completely immersed and integrated with the Victorian Curriculum at year six. The program was named “Fast Cars in Schools.” Teams of students from a number of primary schools developed a complete racing package of a small car, team jerseys, logos, advertising posters, and even sponsorship. The teams then competed with each other to develop the best car and the best overall presentation. Members of the teams had specific roles on designing and building the car, designing and producing the jerseys, promotion, and reporting. In addition to tasks specific to the cars, participating students attended additional practical sessions on the physics and aerodynamics of racing cars, and how one’s reaction times affect the outcome of a race. The program was fully integrated in the school curriculum over two terms. In developing a competitive racing car, the student teams were required to formulate their own questions of inquiry. Under the guidance of their teacher and assigned mentors, the teams also had to solve several basic engineering problems associated with producing a car that performs well in an actual race. The 2015 pilot program ran with a small number of schools in the Geelong region. In 2016, this was extended to 14 schools across Geelong and the Werribee region. In all, around 1000 students participated in the program. The final competition was held at the Deakin Waurn Ponds campus and was attended by 190 students. Feedback from teacher and students was overwhelmingly positive. The team successfully showed how the CADET centre is helpful to a school’s curriculum needs and is not merely a destination for one-day excursions. By applying the educational concept of activity-based learning, the CADET team successfully integrated most aspects of the Victorian year-six curriculum into this program.





Manly, Sydney, NSW

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Publication classification

E Conference publication, E1 Full written paper - refereed


Huda N, Inglis D, Tse N, Town G

Title of proceedings

AAEE 2017 : Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education


Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Conference (28th : 2017 : Manly, Sydney, NSW)


Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference and Macquarie University

Place of publication

Sydney, NSW

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