- 16 October 2018
On Monday 15th October, Nigel Hicks, Operations and Maintenance Manager at Crookwell 2 Wind Farm, and Camilla Staff, Project Officer at RDA Southern Inland, visited Binda and Bigga Public School to assist the students with their Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) projects, as part of the STEM Industry School Partnership Pilot Program.
Throughout Term 3 and up until the end of Term 4, students from Crookwell High School and local primary schools will work in groups to solve a problem identified in the agriculture sector. The students have access to STELR solar and wind kits, robotics and drones to assist them in designing their solution. The project is part of a pilot program, funded by the NSW Department of Education, that aims to provide students with age appropriate STEM skills and pathways to STEM jobs. Three local wind farms, including Crookwell 2, are working closely with the students to assist them with their projects.
Mr Hicks visited Binda Public School first off and briefly spoke to the students about the new wind farm, his role and his journey to get to where he is today. The students, aged from Year 1 to Year 6, were bursting to ask Mr Hicks a number of questions. Questions included, how hard is it to find the perfect site for a wind farm? Mr Hicks explained that it took them more than 10 years to find and finalise the Crookwell 2 site. Or, what are the red lights on the turbines at night? They are there so airplanes can see the turbines. Are there stairs inside the turbines? Yes, in the older wind turbines, but Crookwell 2 wind turbines have lifts as well as stairs.
Students had more questions to ask, but the rest of the lesson was dedicated to helping students with their Agriculture STEM Projects. Mr Hicks and Ms Staff went around to each of the groups to understand a bit about their projects and provide some advice. The two groups at Binda are working on enhancing microchips in stock to provide more information to farmers and an underground tank that captures water from floods.
Mr Hicks and Ms Staff then travelled to Bigga Public School. Again, Mr Hicks introduced himself and his role at the Wind Farm and answered some more interesting questions from the students. How do you get the electricity to houses? Underground cables back to the grid. How big are the blades? 65 metres long. How do you transport them to the farm? With a special truck, one by one, Mr Hicks explained.
It was then time to help the students with their Agriculture STEM Projects.. Mr Hicks was on hand to assist the students in building their STELR solar car kit. He also provided some guidance to students who were designing a wind turbine model to power automatic gates.
“This is a valuable initiative that joins industry and education to promote real world engagement and awareness of issues that farmers and landowners face”, Mr Hicks said.
“The students and staff were very welcoming, genuinely interested in the wind industry, and very enthusiastic about their project work.”