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Hundreds of Year 7 students from schools across central Queensland will become physicists for a day in the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy’s (QMEA) Physics in Flight competition.

Schools from Mount Isa and Gladstone, with the help of resources sector professionals, will compete in a paper plane throwing competition, which has physics at its core.

The event, at Gladstone’s Chanel College is linked to term-two curriculum for Year 7 students, students learn about gravity and other forces, the sessions allow students to show off their newly acquired skills and knowledge.

“Principals came to QMEA looking for an activity that engaged students in a hands-on, fun way and Physics in Flight was born,” said Katrina-Lee Jones, Director Skills Education and Training with the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

‘Design thinking, which is a skill in high demand by our industry is at the core of this activity with industry representatives from Australia Pacific LNG and Glencore working with students on their paper plane designs and providing tips to enable the plane to remain in the air for the maximum amount of time,” she said.

“With the World Record being 29.3 seconds, the students are keen to break this record by taking a creative approach to the challenge whilst applying physics concepts, both of which are part of the curriculum,” said Rob Gibb, Manager Communities and Sustainable Development with ConocoPhillips Australia, downstream operator of Australia Pacific LNG.

“The exercise gives students an understanding of how physics concepts are part of the everyday,” he said.

Glencore’s Human Resources Manager Leanne Ryder said Glencore staff thoroughly enjoy mentoring the students in these exercises and see the penny drop for students on what can seem like abstract concepts.

“QMEA events such as these also help students to see that a career in science technology engineering and maths can be interesting and rewarding,” she said.

David Fisser, Curriculum Leader for Science at Chanel College, says Physics in Flight allows every student to be involved regardless of skill level.

“Students don’t have to run the fastest or be the top of their maths class to do well in this activity,” said Mr Fisser.

“For the students who learn best while doing, this is an excellent competition and I have seen it work so well and really capture their interest in learning,” he said.

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