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“HKUST STEM Month” – Paper Tower Challenge 2017 Promotes STEM with Experiential Learning

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Paper towers built by all participating teams in the 2.5-hour time limit.
Paper towers built by all participating teams in the 2.5-hour time limit. [Download Photo]

A paper tower building competition for secondary school students was held at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) on July 8 with the aim of inspiring young people to be future leaders in engineering by developing their team spirit, logical thinking and engineering concepts.

Named “Structural Engineering Competition for the Youth – Paper Tower Challenge 2017”, the contest was co-organized by the Academy for Bright Future Young Engineers of HKUST and the Joint Structural Division of The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE). About 120 Form 3 to Form 6 students from 16 secondary schools, put into 30 teams, took part.

Participants were required to build a 1.6m paper tower with specific materials in 2.5 hours. The paper tower was assessed by a judging panel of professional engineers and academics based on its height, strength, lightness, and aesthetic and innovative value. After some exciting moments in model assessment and loading tests, Diocesan Boys’ School, Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School, and Po Leung Kuk Lee Shing Pik College were named the Champion, First Runner-up and Second Runner-up respectively. Po Leung Kuk Ma Kam Ming College received commendations for building the strongest as well as the most aesthetic & innovative paper tower, while Immaculate Heart of Mary College received commendation for building the lightest paper tower.

The Paper Tower Challenge 2017 is a highlight in the “HKUST STEM Month”, which was launched by the Academy for Bright Future Young Engineers from June 29 to July 15. A total of 19 STEM-related activities targeting secondary school students are conducted during the STEM Month, with the Paper Tower Challenge, JA Engineering Discovery Day, and “Students as Learning Experience Designers” Learning Symposium & Poster Presentation Day all held on July 8, and 16 workshops of wide-ranging topics held throughout the month. The activities in STEM Month are altogether enrolled by about 850 students from around 40 secondary schools in Hong Kong.

Prof Ben Chan, Associate Director of the Academy for Bright Future Young Engineers, said, “The main objective of the STEM Month is to let secondary school students learn about engineering through handson projects. We hope to ignite their interest in technology and foster a new generation of engineers in Hong Kong.”

Hazel Wing Laam Lam and Jeffrey Lok Hay Tsang, student interns of the Academy and engineering undergraduates at HKUST, have been taking the lead in executing the paper tower challenge under the advice of a group of structural engineers from HKIE. Both are enthusiasts of engineering application since childhood and wish to promote the fun of engineering to secondary school students through the competition. “I am inspired by the participants’ creativity in designing the paper tower. Their enjoyment in the competition motivates and encourages me to further my work in promoting engineering among them,” Jeffrey said.

About the Academy for Bright Future Young Engineers 
The Academy for Bright Future Young Engineers was officially established in November 2016 under the School of Engineering as a result of a generous donation from Prof Roy Chung, Founder and Chairman of Bright Future Charitable Foundation. The Academy aims to provide an innovative and student-centered platform to engage high school learners in authentic engineering experiences and inspire them to embrace an engineer’s habits of mind. It has organized 13 events for 1200 students from 60 primary and secondary schools to date (figures exclude that of the HKUST STEM Month).

Annex 1: Activities in HKUST STEM Month 
Annex 2: List of participating schools in HKUST STEM Month


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