Parent News

Summer Term 2019
Friday 10th May 2019

Stimulating Interest in Engineering

Our focus on the STEM disciplines continued last week, when a selected group of Year 9 students spent the day as junior engineers; planning, designing, building and testing their own model boat. An engineer from our STEM partner, ‘The Smallpeice Trust’, was in school to lead the special hands-on session to help stimulate students’ interest in engineering, along with the other STEM subjects. The science, technology and maths disciplines are all crucial to engineering and, with a shortage of students following engineering related courses in Higher Education, it is becoming more important to grab the interest of younger students early, to help them focus on these subjects and give them goals to aim for.
Stimulating Interest in Engineering
The day was sponsored by Seafarers UK, to help highlight the numerous career opportunities available within the marine industry. They challenged the students to produce the fastest boat, powered by a turbine or jet pump, which could travel in a straight line for a set distance on water. Communication was vital as the teams of students discussed how they could build the best and fastest boat. Working together, they developed their ideas on paper before using modelling foam to create their designs. Using the foam, a motor, switch and cable, all held together with glue, the teams produced a variety of shapes and sizes of craft – some more successful than others. As the day progressed, the groups tested their prototypes in a shallow water tank and refined their design before upscaling their boat, building a larger model using plastic sheet and balsa wood. Each team had to account for the materials they had ‘purchased’ and deliver a presentation about their design to promote their model. The teams scored points for functionality and effectiveness of their craft, ingenuity of their designs, the delivery of their presentation and how the team worked together to achieve their goals. Many of the teams had to overcome numerous technical hitches throughout the day; a number had to deal with capsized craft, soon realising that you could take streamlining beyond the point of stability!
Stimulating Interest in Engineering
Stimulating Interest in EngineeringAfter a break for lunch, the school swimming pool was the ideal location to conduct the final testing - to see which boat could complete a two-metre long course in the shortest possible time. A number of teams overlooked using the test tank to ensure that their larger model functioned correctly. Once in the pool they soon discovered that their models would only go round in circles, travel backwards or sank completely! There were however a number of the boats, powered by jet pumps, which did negotiate the course and then proceeded to sail across the entire swimming pool. Many congratulations to all of the students who took part, especially the winning team, for some excellent innovation and design along with some great teamwork.