'Engineers' compete to build straw towers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am

More than 700 students put their scientific knowledge to the test last Sunday - they competed to build the best tower using straws and scientific principles.

The Hong Kong and Macau Inter-school Straw Competition 2008 attracted 180 teams from more than 100 secondary schools in Hong Kong. It was organised by the City University of Hong Kong (CityU)'s Physics and Materials Science Society.

The competition, which was divided into junior and senior sections, aimed to encourage interest in physics by asking participants to apply their scientific knowledge to engineering problems.

Each team of four students was given 90 minutes, 100 straws and a length of string to construct a tower with a ramp leading to the floor along which a ball could be launched. The team that propelled the ball the greatest distance would win.

After all the towers had been tested, the team from Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee Kung Yik She Secondary School was declared winners in the junior section and St Stephen's College won the top prize in the seniors. Both teams were awarded a HK$1,500 book coupon and a trophy. Last year, participating teams were required to construct an aeroplane using straws. Students had to come up with light and sleek gliders that could fly a long distance.

Dr Jonathan Chung Chi-yuen, an associate professor at CityU's department of physics and materials science, said: 'The contest allows students to put their knowledge of physics and materials science to creative use.'

Yip Yam-hon, a Year One student at CityU who helped organise the competition, said: 'We took care of everything ourselves. We learned a lot.'