At Weeroona College Bendigo, the Energy Breakthrough is much more than an innovative four-day event, it is a chance to reinforce already strong community ties. The school’s program – which began way back in 1999 – had gone through something of a ‘dip’ in recent years, but it’s now bouncing back thanks to a fresh approach which looks beyond the ‘Breakthrough.
ABOVE: The grid for the 2001 Energy Efficient Vehicle trial, featuring two leading teams from Weeroona College in the top four: the two silver vehicles closest to camera.
In recent years, Weeroona College Bendigo had experienced some tough times with participation dropping in the Energy Breakthrough program until the enthusiastic Jack McIntosh put up his hand to fill the school’s vacant co-ordinator role. Anything that is nearing two decades is sure to find a low point, sometime.
“I thought it was something that would be interesting to take on – but having little to no experience, it sure has been a steep learning curve!” Jack said.
“But I quickly found out that it is the most rewarding program that I have been associated with in my teaching career, I brought an energy to the program that had been missing for a few years and really began promoting it to all of the students within the school.”
Jack’s efforts were well rewarded with 60 students signing up for tryouts last year and this year the program has continued to grow in popularity.
“All of the teams agree that at school we are like a family, all of the kids look out for each other and it creates a sense of belonging. Particularly our younger students who get to know students from older year levels,” Jack said.
Above: Weeroona College Team Manager, Jack McIntosh, nervously pacing in the pits.
Beyond the Breakthrough
The school’s community work stretches far beyond Bendigo’s, or even Australia’s, borders with Weeroona College Bendigo’s Energy Breakthrough teams taking things to the next level assisting with the collection, transport and storage more than 100 bikes for the Bicycles for Humanity Movement which, in turn, will be delivered to African children in need.
Closer to home, Weeroona College Bendigo’s strong community ties are on clear display with the school’s Energy Breakthrough team securing several sponsors and a grant through local group Bendigo Northern District Community Enterprise. This grant has allowed the school to take its 2018 Energy Breakthrough up a notch by purchasing new Garmin’s, riding shoes and upgrading the school’s training facility.
Their B2 team, Mr Whippy, recently took class line honours at the Bendigo HPV/EEV Grand Prix in August, so the Weeroona team was quietly confident they could build on that foundation for Maryborough in November.
Energy Breakthrough 2018
Finding inspiration from a famous ice cream truck for two of their HPV team names, Weeroona College entered ‘Mr Whippy’ and ‘Mrs Whippy’ in the B2 category while ‘Dart’n Through’ lined up in the B1 category.
Jack was suitably impressed with the results:
“It was an amazing effort from all of our students this year. To have all three finishing in the top 10 is a stellar achievement – and our most senior team managed to finish third in the Trial. We were extremely disappointed with the other scores in Design & Construction and Display & Presentation, though,” Jack said.
“Our most experienced team improved significantly, after some mechanical issues in 2017 they did incredibly well,” Jack continued. “Our new junior team performed well with their first event, too and last year’s Juniors rode well for their first time in the B2 Category.”
“Our students get so much out of this event, they develop social skills, team skills, public speaking skills. They also develop their design thinking skills when making modifications to vehicles. They are using the lathes, welding new parts, learning how to use various hand tools and going through the sanding and painting processes, too.”
Weeroona’s participation in the Energy Breakthrough program was made possible thanks to all of the teachers and parents, plus sponsorship and support throughout the year from Bendigo Northern District Community Enterprise, Bendigo Refrigeration and Airconditioning Services, J+K Law, Choices flooring, Bendigo Embroidery Service, J.L King and Co, Laser Electrical, Paul Bonifield Creative Design and McIntosh Signs.