This event was also covered by the North Coast Times Community Newspaper

Teams of keen science students from Clarkson, Merriwa and Somerly Primary Schools were recently invited to Clarkson Community High School for the chance to compete in the “Clarkson Challenge”. In its ninth year, the Clarkson Challenge is an academic problem-solving program in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), where students are set problems to solve using scientific knowledge, technology skills and teamwork, all while following a design process.

We all know that the world is moving towards an energy crisis as fossil fuels begin to run out. Alternative fuels will need to be developed if we are to meet the transport needs of future generations whilst at the same time protecting the environment. Therefore, the idea behind this year’s Clarkson Challenge was to inspire our future scientists to solve this issue by producing an emissions-free solar powered car using sustainable materials and innovative techniques such as 3D printing.

Two teams from each school set to work to create a car that met the following criteria:

  • Must be durable 
  • Must to reach the end of a sixteen-metre track 
  • Must operate in all weather conditions 
  • Must carry two 50g weights to represent passengers 
  • Must have a body shell to protect the occupants 
  • Must look good 
  • Must show innovation 
  • Must be as sustainable as practicable. 

The educational program for the day was split into four sessions representing the design process. Students carried out research and investigated the problem and how to solve it, they then designed their cars on paper before creating their cars and testing them.

Students revisited areas of this process during the testing phase, trying out different ideas to see which was the most effective. At the end of the day, each team ran time trials on the pre-built track and their cars were judged based on the criteria listed above. 

The students, teachers, support staff and parents all commented that it was a very enjoyable day and the feedback sheets that students completed at the end of the program were very positive indeed.

Every team did a fantastic job and participated with vigour and enthusiasm. The winning team was “The Bolt Juniors” from Somerly Primary School and they walked away with the Clarkson Challenge Trophy and ten tickets to Scitech!

Head of Applied Science & Technology John Keyworth with the winning team "The Bolt Juniors" from Somerly Primary School featuring Esther Kimo, Harmony Johnstone, Philip Nguyen and Ashton Stern

Clarkson Community High School would like to thank all staff involved in the organisation of the day, and Clarkson, Merriwa and Somerly Primary Schools for taking part in this very rewarding and enjoyable program. We look forward to welcoming them again next year.


Inviting student involvement is critical to student success in the journey students embark upon when they attend school.  I-CORT; Intentionality, Care, Optimism, Respect and Trust underpin the philosophy at Clarkson, and we strive to provide a positive learning environment through the ethos of Invitational Education. The Clarkson Challenge is an opportunity to share in the great things are happening at Clarkson CHS in Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) and promote our invitational approach to learning.

For more information please visit this article and watch our video on the Intentionality of Making Learning Visible. 

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