Mater Maria College Scoops Technology Prize Pool

SILICON CHIP has rewarded two students from Mater Maria Catholic College, Warriewood, with its inaugural "Excellence in Education Technology" awards, and the college itself with more than $6000 worth of electronics laboratory equipment.

The awards had two divisions, both worth $5000. One was for any secondary school or college with an electronics curriculum and the other for universities and TAFEs.

In the schools division, there were two awards made of $1000 each to the students submitting their major works for electronics in the Higher School Certificate, with $3000 going to the winning school/college for electronic test and construction equipment.

As it turned out, the judges awarded Mater Maria students with both individual prices and the college took out the major award. Leo Simpson, publisher of SILICON CHIP, said that with the magazine’s connections, the $3000 was turned into $6000 worth of gear. "We obtained gear from Jaycar Electronics, Altronics and Dick Smith Electronics, as well as bullet-proof digital multimeters from Yokogawa Australia" (see review this issue).

"We believe that with this equipment, Mater Maria electronics laboratory will be the best-equipped in the state," he said. "The teacher of electronics, Dave Kennedy, was speechless when he saw what he would be working with next year."

The $1000 cash prizes were awarded to two students, Lauren Capel and Matt McDonald.

Lauren sourced a non-working 1940s vintage battery-operated valve radio receiver, restored and repaired it, then added a mains power supply and brought it into the twenty-first century with an MP3 player and miniature radio transmitter so she could play her MP3s through the radio.

Matt’s project was a complete home security system, complete with SMS text messaging service to warn of intruders and mobile-phone operated remote control. Unable to find the alarm control he wanted in Australia, Matt sourced and imported a unit from Great Britain.

Leo Simpson said that both projects demonstrated a great deal of ingenuity and were markedly different from the majority of Higher School Certificate major works entered. "Most students chose projects such as high power audio amplifiers for the home or car," he said. "They reflect the interests of students of that age."

"But the projects Lauren and Matt produced showed that they thought outside the square. Much more research and documentation was needed in their projects than the majority, who in the main build their projects from kits of parts."

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