Students from five schools converged on The Nottingham Emmanuel School in West Bridgford to take part in The Faraday Challenge, each attempting to design the most efficient and innovative solution to an engineering task.
In the running were teams representing The Nottingham Emmanuel School, Bluecoat Wollaton, Bluecoat Aspley, Bluecoat Beechdale Academy and Ellis Guildford School. All striving to win the task and secure their school’s place on the project’s national league table of winning entrants.
Phil Hart from the Institution of Engineering and Technology ran the challenge and said that 178 schools will eventually take part, with the top five in the tables competing in a National Final in Edinburgh next summer. “This project gives students a much wider view of what engineering is about. We look at all aspects of the field, like the budgeting side of it, the teamwork, finance and paperwork, bringing lots and lots of different skills contribute to the work.”
Phil says the project aims to reinvigorate interest in engineering as a subject. “Absolutely everyone can be involved in engineering. I would say the only thing preventing interest is possibly peer pressure or an incorrect idea of what engineering is about. I think at the moment about only 9% of qualified engineers are female for example. Yet we find in these events, that predominantly or all female teams are better than all or predominantly male teams. As we have seen here today!
“I hope that students walk out of the door today with a much wider understanding of what the world of engineering is about, so they can either explore it more, or even to discover that it isn’t for them! I myself got interested in my latter years doing more practical things at home. At school I had a very narrow view of the field, that it was just about nuts and bolts! I now know it is something totally different.” Phil says he is convinced that students would embrace the subject more, given the opportunity. “We have seen here today, teams of students sat on a table for 6 hours and they have been incredibly focused on task. If it wasn’t such an interesting subject, it wouldn’t have worked.”
Mr Ashmore, an Academic Mentor at The Nottingham Emmanuel School hosted the event and said, “All of the students were very capable, even though the complex nature of the challenge could easily have deterred them. However, they rose to the challenge in all aspects of the task, not just the science and engineering concepts, but especially the teamwork where all of the teams coped admirably.
“I am really proud of everyone. The design brief was so wide that they could easily have been overawed, but their enthusiasm and imagination did not flag throughout the day, and all of the teams were resourceful and used concepts from their science curriculum to inform their designs. All those participating excelled in this respect, and it was particularly satisfying that the 6 teams produced 6 completely different but equally valid designs.”
Students Scarlet (Yr8) and Megan (Yr8) were on the same team. Scarlet said, “I was already interested in engineering because my older brother is at University studying it and is sometimes doing course work when I visit him. Today has definitely made me want to do it more than before though. Now I know there is a lot more to the subject; like the organising and designing that happens before you start making the product.” Megan also enjoyed the day, “I thought it was really fun. I feel people just think its about building, but there is a lot more to it. I have really enjoyed today!”
Destiny (Yr8) was on the winning team and said, “I was really shocked that we won because at first we were just struggling with some cardboard! To try and make something that works, and that transports things, caught us off guard! Both my friend I squealed when it was announced because we so surprised!”
The winning team designed a motorised truck for delivering a telescope for launch, using a prism shape to hold the telescope securely on its journey and which opened at the top for access. Destiny said, “I haven’t really thought much about engineering before today, but I really enjoy it now!”