Scone Grammar School students claim the honours at annual Upper Hunter Science and Engineering Challenge

THE Muswellbrook Indoor Sports Centre is a hive of activity at the moment - all thanks to the local Rotary Club, University of Newcastle and Yancoal.

The Upper Hunter Science and Engineering Challenge (UHSEC), which featured about 200 high school students, kept everyone entertained on Wednesday, while Discovery Day - over Thursday and Friday - will ensure the region's younger pupils don't miss out either.

Activities included building a hovercraft, wiring a virtual city, designing a suspension buggy and constructing a catapult.

One of the organisers from Muswellbrook Rotary Club, Phil Lawler, said both events were significant in the development of youth in the area.

"We had Scone Grammar, Scone High, St Joseph's High Aberdeen, Muswellbrook High and Singleton High all in attendance for the UHSEC, which was great," he said.

"The challenge is designed to give youngsters - in Year 10 and below - the opportunity to hone up their mathematic and scientific skills in a hands-on real life experience.

"In designing and building a replica of an authentic piece of superstructure or mechanism used in everyday life, the results are based on taking into account the engineering principals of lighter weight, greater strength and least cost.

"The ultimate aim of this event is to encourage more students to prepare themselves for entry into science and engineering faculties at the tertiary level.

"It also gives them an appreciation of what it would be like to work as a scientist or engineer.

"Scone Grammar was deemed the winner of the UHSEC."

The success of the Upper Hunter Science and Engineering Challenge is profound, according to uni data, with 49 per cent of the participants being influenced to study physics, 28 per cent mathematics and 24 per cent chemistry.

A whopping 94 per cent also found the UHSEC rewarding, with 91 per cent believing it was relevant to their potential careers.

Meanwhile, children from Cassilis Public, Pacific Book Christian, Belltrees Public, Ellerston Public, Blandford Public, Scone Public, St James' Primary Muswellbrook, King Street Public and Singleton Public schools were just as busy on Thursday.

"Discovery Day is more about having fun," Mr Lawler said.

"So, we're delighted nine Upper Hunter schools are involved."