The Energy Breakthrough is an education-first program for schools of all shapes and sizes. It has vast benefits across a wide range of curriculum areas, both formally and informally.

Curriculum Areas

Teachers and students have told us that the Energy Breakthrough has helped to reinforce students’ learning in:

  • STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (in particular through the Design & Construction and Trials)
  • Health & Physical Education, Nutrition (Trial aspects)
  • English, the Arts & Drama (Display & Presentation)
  • Computer science and coding (Robotics)
  • Electrical engineering in our Pedal+Electric hybrids and All-Electric Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs)
  • Electrical engineering also with horn and light systems for Human Powered Vehicles (HPVs)
  • Sustainability (Program-wide lessons)

Interpersonal Benefits

The interpersonal benefits for students are immense, too.
Both teachers and students have told us that through the Energy Breakthrough the students have gained experience in:

  • How to work as part of a team / collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Sense of belonging to a team
  • Increased fitness and nutrition
  • Budgeting
  • Time management
  • Improved confidence
  • Increased awareness of renewable energy and issues facing society
  • Improved relationships between staff and students
  • Exploring relationships and diversity
  • Resilience
  • Decision making skills
  • Networking with local community, businesses and other schools
  • Recognition and expression of emotions

The Energy Breakthrough can be used as a ‘vehicle’ to address a wide range of the ‘personal and social capability’ components of the Victorian Curriculum.
View more >

“Students learn about the environmental impact of vehicles, alternate mode of transport, public speaking skills, determination to see a task through, healthy eating, teamwork, fitness, and a range of other personal & social learning.

An example of this is a highly disengaged Year 5 student who is on an alternate timetable. He was able to assist with pulling the trikes apart, running electrical wiring, working with a mechanic so that they are mechanically sound, and spray paint the trikes ready to race.

The Energy Breakthrough has been the only program that has engaged this student, motivated him to come to school and taught him to communicate with peers and adults alike.”

Sonia Rodgers, Teacher

Primary School Level

Did you know that over 60% of the schools that participate in EB each year are public primary schools?

That’s right! And they are out there tackling the widest range of experiences and opportunities on offer: Robotics, Junkyard Challenge, Pushcarts and Human Powered Vehicles. The only activity they cannot do is our Electric and Pedal-Electric Hybrid vehicles (they have to wait for high school for that!)

Big, small, rural, regional, metro, public, independent, catholic or specialist: we welcome all comers to participate in the Energy Breakthrough. Here’s some ideas about how YOU can incorporate Energy Breakthrough into your primary school, which has been done successfully at Katamatite Primary School and Avoca Primary School as examples.

Katamatite Primary School, a small Victorian Rural School with 36 students distributed across three classrooms, enthusiastically embraced the Energy Breakthrough competition.

The entire senior class, consisting of 15 students from grades 4 to 6, actively participated, with 13 students representing the school at the event. The school made its mark in two crucial events: the Pushcart Challenge and Robotics.


The Energy Breakthrough became the focal point of the senior class STEM curriculum, prominently featuring the “Pushcart Design and Engineering Challenge.”

This immersive two-term unit, intricately aligned with the competition, guided students through a comprehensive educational journey. It covered design principles and fundamental forces, including push and pull, friction, and aerodynamics. Transitioning from theoretical exploration to hands-on application, students engaged in activities ranging from brainstorming and design drawings to prototyping and construction.

Pushcarts Program Planner

Courtesy of Katamatite Primary School

Week Topic
1 Understanding Energy Breakthrough
2 Forces and Principles
3 Design Thinking
4 Materials, Tools, and Safety
5 Prototyping and Construction
6 Physical Fitness Integration

Robotics Program Planner

Courtesy of Katamatite Primary School

This aspect of the competition provides invaluable lessons in coding, debugging, and problem-solving. Students navigate the complexities of programming the Sphero Bolt robots, gaining practical coding experience.

The challenge not only hones their technical skills but also fosters a deep understanding of the iterative process of debugging and the art of problem-solving in a dynamic, real-world context.

The students emerge from the competition with a broader skill set, having not only applied theoretical STEM concepts – but also engage in the practical application of coding principles.

Week Topic
1 Introduction to Sphero Bolts
2 Coding Basics with Sphero Edu App
3 Exploring Sensors and Lights
4 Advanced Coding Techniques
5 Sphero Bolts and Problem-Solving Projects
6 Sphero Bolts Mini-Project and Showcase

Pushcarts / Human Powered Vehicle Program Planner

Courtesy of Avoca Primary School

This unit will enable students to investigate the idea of ‘energy’ to build, increase and harness energy sources.

One important aim of the unit will to build student capacity in relation to Global Warming / Climate Change and the impact we humans are having on the World. We will investigate both renewable and non-renewable energy and the effects they have on the environment.

As part of the program students build their knowledge and gain confidence in presenting known information to an audience. Students are required to work as part of a team, to equally share responsibility for completing their project. The presentation is an opportunity for students to apply their ideas, knowledge and skills learnt from a range of contexts to demonstrate their understanding of team work, global warming and design feature of their pushcart or human powered vehicle.

Week Topic
1 Healthy Eating - what it is?
2 Healthy Eating Choices (Guest Speaker Option)
3 Non-renewable energy: Fossil Fuels
4 Renewable energy (Guest Speaker Option)
5 Climate Change - What is it?
6 Transport and the Environment AND Mechanics of Pushcart and / or HPV (Guest Speaker Option)
7 The EB Event!
8 Poster/brochure to reflect their learnings
9 Share Poster / Brochure with school and local community.
10 Year in review. Scrapbooking collage of photos from the year

Secondary School Level (Years 7 – 10)

Engaging students in STEM in Years 7-10 can be fun and rewarding, especially when you have a ‘vehicle’ such as the Energy Breakthrough to build the students’ focus around. Whilst acknowledging that schools have different levels of expertise, resources and time available, here are three different models from schools that have implemented the Energy Breakthrough in class in recent years.

The Energy Breakthrough has been found to touch on a wide range of the ‘personal and social capability’ components of the Victorian Curriculum. View more >

“The beauty of the Energy Breakthrough is the motivation that it creates to investigate and problem solve.

There is a great deal of informal learning that goes on in the form of robust conversations and resilience building as problems are encountered, attacked and solved.”

Annette Martin, Teacher

STEM Program Planner – Model 1

Courtesy of Crusoe College, Bendigo

Semester Focus Areas
Semester 1: Design Focus - Aesthetic design of fairing and team wear (clothing)
- Aerodynamic design, creating a fairing model
- Aspects of trike design, all the different components that make up a racing trike.
- Vehicle preparation
Semester 2: Health Focus - Development of a training program
- CPR and First Aid
- Concussion and rule changes.
- Vehicle Preparation and testing.
The EB Event!

STEM Program Planner – Model 2

Courtesy of Weeroona College, Bendigo

Week Topic / Activity
1 Start-Up Week
2 Overview of program, Expectations, Onguard (Sanders and hand tools)
3 Tear down of existing vehicles, Understanding how our vehicles work
4 Sanding – Why do we do it? Putting what we learn into practice.
5 The importance of servicing, what does it prevent? What does it improve? Servicing the vehicles, F1 Grand Prix Excursion
6 Practical assessment – how well students participate in servicing and repairs; Written Assessment
7 Training to win – what makes a good training programme? plus Cycling Fitness Testing
8 Apexes – What are they? How to use them, plus Cycling Fitness Testing
9 Putting the pieces back together, reassembling trikes, fitting windows and stickers.
10 Assessment: Designing a training program
11 Recap and Review
Term 2
1 The importance of nutrition, Bike Education – servicing our bikes just like our vehicles
2 Design thinking process: How can we use design thinking to improve our Competitive Edge?
3 Training ride to Axedale and back on the O’Keefe Trail (~50km) Continue work on 'Competitive Edge Project'
4 'Competitive Edge Project' work; sprint trials
5 'Competitive Edge Project' work; fitness preparation at local gym
6 'Competitive Edge Project' evaluation
7 Display and Presentation – What’s required?; Research session on Display and Pres Topic
8 Display and Presentation; and fitness preparation at local gym
9 Guest speaker – Engineer; finalise presentation
10 Local manufacturer Tour – Understanding the engineering process in the real world; Rehearse Presentation.
11 Recap and Review

STEM Program Planner – Model 3

Courtesy of Toorak College, Melbourne

Week Topic
1 Crash training and Gearing
2 Physics experiment 1 – Movement of body under constant acceleration (gravity) AND Design and Construction Rules
3 Mechanics
4 Physics experiment 2 – Aerodynamic test
5 Physics experiment 3 – Work - energy equation
6 Presentation research
7 Presentation preparation
8 Presentation practice
9 The EB Event
10 Evaluation and Review

“As an all-girls school we have students using tools and solving problems such as building storage racks for the pits, learning to set up tarps over leaking tents, collaborating across year levels and mentoring and training each other in safety and skills.

Our girls are using 3D printers, calculating frontal areas and thinking about drag forces.

We have students that have spent a year with us and decided they want to study Mech Engineering. This is the most pure STEM learning the school does and this is essential in such male dominated industries.”

James B, Teacher

VCE Level (Years 11 – 12)

The Energy Breakthrough can be implemented at VCE level as a Product Design & Technology (PD&T) subject, alongside 

One school – Bendigo Senior Secondary College – has been implementing subject as a choice at VCE level since the 1990’s.

The class is available to Year 11 students (Units 1 and 2) and Year 12 (Unit 3 and 4) as a separate class, which consists of three contact periods per week : two singles and a double period.

At the beginning of each unit, students select and aspect of the vehicle or pit equipment to design and produce. (i.e. the vehicle is broken up into its individual components and assigned to students.

The same assessments (SAT and SAC’s) are completed as other PD&T students such as woods, metals and textiles and students must produce a folio for assessment.

Through this subject, the students focus on the use of high-end materials such as composites (carbon fibre, Kevlar), aluminium and high grade steels (titanium).

Students investigate high end manufacturing and have been on tours of such facilities, as well as excursions to participate in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix schools STEM-program titled ‘Driving Learning.’

Class members need to collaborate with other students so that the components of the vehicle are compatible and whilst there is an emphasis on students who do the PD&T class have priority in team composition, some choose to be pit crew or support crew at the event.

Curriculum Overview

Essential Learning Activity / Criteria Focus
1 Skill in developing an end user/s’ profile, research, a design brief and evaluation criteria with reference to the product design factors.
2 Skill in conducting research and communicating developmental work.
3 Skill in developing creative and innovative design options, and ability to gain end user/s feedback and justify preferred option.
4 Skill in preparing working drawings and a scheduled production/work plan (including quality measures)
5 Ability to document understanding of and judgments about suitability of materials and production processes, tools, equipment and machines, and identify how the product would be manufactured in industry.