Engineering workshops ignite creativity

Engineering workshops ignite creativity
Engineering workshops ignite creativity

On Saturday 10 November, 22 Cubs and Scouts aged 9-13 visited the Australian National University (ANU) to participate in a day of workshops jointly organised by Engineers Without Borders (EWB) ACT and the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The event was an initiative of Scouts ACT’s SciScouts, a program that aims to build enquiring minds through hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities; supporting the Scouting philosophy of Learning by Doing.

EWB ran two hands-on workshops for the participants. The first workshop, ‘Water for Life’, saw the Cubs and Scouts learn about what an engineer actually is, what they do, and also about sustainability in design.

“Engineers respond to the needs of society by providing technological solutions to everyday problems in order to improve the quality of life,” said Sarah Callinan, an ANU student who help facilitate the workshop.

After learning about access to clean water around the world, the participants worked in teams to construct their own water filters. Each team was assigned a country and respective ‘budget’ based on its GDP to mimic real constraints. This led to collaboration between countries, much like ‘foreign aid’, in the form of donations and materials sharing. With access to only basic materials such as sand, cotton buds and charcoal, the teams had to be both creative and resourceful in their designs.

The teams were then put to the test when very dirty water was poured through their filters. In the end, the Timor-Leste team were declared the winners – despite having one of the lowest budgets.

The Cubs and Scouts then focused on the prosthetic leg workshop. This activity focused on appropriate technologies and access to healthcare in developing nations.

After briefly learning how the human leg works, participants were challenged to build their own ‘prosthetic leg’ to ‘replace’ their lower leg. Using only basic materials such as plungers, plastic pipe and sponges, teams worked together to design a prosthetic that was both comfortable and functional. Through the testing and iteration of designs, almost all teams were able to use their creation to walk around the room.

Feedback from parents of the attendees echoed the excitement and enthusiasm on the day.

“Our son really enjoyed the experience and we are grateful for wonderful opportunities like this,” said Donnette Marjoram.

Sarah Callinan, added that she was amazed at the creativity of the students.

“It was a pleasure to work with a group of such bright and engaged students. We were very impressed by the Scouts’ creativity, problem-solving and team-work skills, and look forward to running more regular workshops in collaboration with Scouts ACT.”

To learn more about the hands-on outreach activities coordinated by the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, please email

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