Saturday, April 20, 2024

Full STEM ahead for Hastings Heroes

When it comes to robotics, Hastings Secondary College, in Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid North Coast, has terabytes of talent.

Jorja Schofield is a passionate advocate for girls in STEM after discovering robotics when she started high school.

“I was a quiet kid in Year 7; I was the quirky odd one out. But I’ve always had an interest in STEM and I thought robotics looked awesome,” she said.

Fast forward to Year 12 and Jorja is school captain of Hastings Secondary College, Westport Campus, and captain-coach of the successful robotics team, Hastings Heroes 6508.

Based across two campuses in Port Macquarie on Birpai Country, Hastings Secondary College has been a consistently strong performer in the Southern Cross Regional FIRST Robotics Competition since its students began taking part in 2017.

Hastings Heroes has finished in the top four every year it has competed in the competition, placing second this year to Sydney’s Barker College.

Teams are given their brief for the competition early in January, which means students give up the summer school holidays to do the bulk of research and development.

“It doesn’t feel like a chore,” Jorja said. “All the kids that do robotics are super passionate and really love STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).”

For the four-day competition last month in Wollongong, teams were set the task of creating a robot which could play a game involving cones and cubes – pick them up, drop them off and perform precision manoeuvres.

The Hasting Heroes will next compete in Melbourne in July.

“It’s an off-season comp which is more of a skills and bonding development opportunity . . . although we did win in 2022,” Jorja said.

Jorja is completing her HSC this year and hopes to study biomechanical engineering or biomechanical science at the University of Newcastle. She plans to be on the sidelines as a mentor to the Hastings Heroes in 2024.

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