Students from 16 primary schools in the Newcastle local government area met at Callaghan College, Waratah on Thursday 6th June to compete in RDA Hunter’s miniME Mars Rover Challenge.

At the Challenge, students put their coding skills into action on a purpose-built track modelled on Newcastle’s Civic Precinct. The activity saw teams program their Rovers to navigate the maze-like course while undertaking science experiments to collect environmental impact data. Built by RDA Hunter for Stage One of miniME, additional renewable energy data collection activities were added to the course for the Phase Two Challenge to help raise students’ awareness of environmental issues.

Part of a Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter, City of Newcastle and Obelisk Systems partnership, the Challenge is the culmination of Phase Two of the miniME Program, which saw the expansion of STEM activities, including robotics and coding, into 35 of Newcastle’s primary schools.

miniME aims to ignite student interest in STEM study and its real-world applications early in their schooling.

Participating schools each receive two StarLAB Sensor + Mars Rover Bundles*, a tailored curriculum as well as support to enable teacher delivery of the cutting-edge STEM and coding platform. The StarLAB Mars Rover platform helps schools teach coding and STEM in the classroom. It is also an exciting way to engage students in robotics as the Rovers have a 3D printed frame, high power motors and additional sensors to allow it to navigate a set course.

Phase Two schools include: Hamilton PS, Hamilton South PS, Jesmond PS, Maryland PS, Merewether PS, New Lambton South PS, Shortland PS, Stockton PS, The Junction PS, Wallsend South PS, Blacksmiths PS, St Michael’s Primary School, Shoal Bay PS, Metford PS, Biraben PS and Swansea PS.


*The miniME program is supported by City of Newcastle as part of its Smart City initiatives, which has received $5 million in grant funding from the Australian Government through its Smart Cities and Suburbs program. The miniME Challenge was developed by RDA Hunter and Obelisk Systems to contribute to the Smart Mobility and Smart Environment objectives of Newcastle’s Smart City strategy