THE silence in Muswellbrook Indoor Sports Centre was broken by an explosion of cheering.
Students from high schools across the Upper Hunter had spent the day participating in The Science and Engineering Challenge, and the finale – the bridge test – would show whose creation would stand the longest.
The annual event is an outreach program presented by the University of Newcastle in partnership with Rio Tinto and the Rotary Club of Muswellbrook.
Scone High School ended the day victorious, winning the overall trophy with a score of 1114.22 points.
They were followed by Singleton High School, 1034.14; St Joseph's High School Aberdeen, 1017.66; Scone Grammar School, 909.05; St Catherine's Catholic College Singleton, 869.48; Muswellbrook High School, 749.26; and Merriwa Central School, 718.08.
The Science Challenge’s Christopher Hendry said it was a successful day.
“All the activities ran really well; it seemed a lot of the students enjoyed themselves at the activities, which is the ultimate goal,” he said.
“We had a winner in the end, and they’re looking very excited to go onto the state finals in Sydney.
“What we offer is a hands-on experience that a lot of schools may not have the facilities to provide.
“Also, they get to compete against other schools in their areas.
“There might be school rivalries that have gone on for years before us and will continue on for years to come.
“All that combined gives a great atmosphere.
“And [having] fun connected with the words engineering and science.”
Upper Hunter primary schools will have their chance to join in the educational fun during Thursday and Friday.
The annual event is an outreach programme presented by the University of Newcastle in partnership with Rio Tinto and the Rotary Club of Muswellbrook.
The challenge has been funded though the Rio Tinto Hunter Valley Community Development Fund since 2002.
“We are very pleased that since the development of the programme more than 10,000 students have had the chance to participate in the challenge and perhaps consider studying science and engineering disciplines in the future,” Rio Tinto Mount Thorley Warkworth general manager Colin Mackey said.
“It was great to see thirty of our Rio Tinto employees assisting with the three-day event, a number of whom originally participated as students while still at school.
“We are also pleased to confirm our support of the programme for a further two years and look forward to our continued involvement.”