Students answer STEM transport challenge

Scientific knowledge and teamwork helped six Year 9 students at LaSalle Catholic College Bankstown reach the finals in the inaugural Metro Challenge. The group designed an alternative to the Opal card used to access Sydney’s public transport. Their small polypropalene sticker is a flexible, hands-free alternative to the card that can be stuck on phones, prams and wheelchairs.

Sydney Metro Trains ran the challenge, which asked students to identify and solve a problem within the Sydney train system. A geologist and education officer from the organisation shared their expertise with students during a mentoring session.

The LaSalle team was among the six finalists from 33 schools. They narrowly missed first place after presenting to a panel of judges and an audience of 100 peers, professionals and university students with Science majors.

The sticker is more convenient and durable.

– Harriet Owusu

Science teacher Philip Stonefield said the students gave up their own time to complete the project and gained valuable skills in the process.

“The ideas they came up with were amazing and they developed skills that are transferrable to their future workplaces,” he said.

“They redesigned the turnstiles to read a chip on the sticker, so if you are carrying luggage you can go straight through without having to take it out, which improves efficiency with queues.”

While presenting their customer service-focused design to a large audience was nerve-wracking, challenge member Harriet Owusu, 14, said the feedback was positive. Being familiar with the current system through school and leisure commutes helped the group’s design.

“We know what issues occur with Opal cards because we have them, so we knew how to change it to benefit us,” she said. “The sticker is more convenient and durable.”

 

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