Day Trip to Goulburn

On the 9th of September 2016 five Engage: University Outreach volunteers visited students at Goulburn High School and Goulburn South Public School to run a workshop called “floating houses”.

Running the workshop were our ANU student volunteers, Kelsie, James and Dom. Tagging along and taking photos/videos was Engage’s media coordinator Skye and executive director Sam.

Day trip volunteers posing outside of Goulburn High School                                                                                From left: Sam, Kelsie, James, Skye, Dom

The floating houses workshop comes from one of Engage’s outreach partners Engineers Without Borders (EWB) an organisation aimed at connecting, educating and empowering people through humanitarian engineering.

The premise of the workshop; In Cambodia there is a lake called Tonlé Sap that floods every year to fill almost one third of the country. Approximately 1.2 million people living in the greater Tonlé sap area make their living by fishing on the local waters. The ability to keep your house above the rising lake level is of great importance to the local inhabitants. The aim of the EWB workshop: to engineer a “floating house” to be used by the villagers.

In groups of 3-4, students had 15-20 minutes to design and build a structure, from limited materials, that could float whilst holding a lot of weight.

Goulburn South Public School:

Goulburn High School:

The items they could use included balloons, plastic cups, cling wrap, foil, paddle pop sticks, straws and rubber bands. Students came up with quite a range of inspired structures from the “Cup Trio” to the “Foil Barge”.

At the end of the time limit students’ creations were placed in a tub of water to sink or swim (well…float). Glass pebbles “villagers” were placed in the structures and the one that could hold the most pebbles was the winner! The record for this trip was around 150 pebbles.


It was a wonderful day of designing, building and testing some brilliant creations! Our Engage volunteers are looking forward to our next visit to Goulburn High School and Goulburn South Public School.