The Beacon School Leaderboard 09/05

St Benedict's pupil designs bridge across the Thames

Published on isbi School News dated Thursday 5th of June 2014

Eddie Bannister, a Year 8 pupil at St Benedict's School, Ealing, took part in an Engineering Experience course at the University of Nottingham during the Easter holidays. Eddie enjoyed a unique hands-on experience, working with other school children aged 12 14, on 'real life' challenges lead by role model engineers from Jaguar Land Rover, National Nuclear Laboratory, Rolls-Royce, Royal Navy and Transport for London. The three day residential course was organised by The Smallpeice Trust, an independent educational charity that runs courses and activities to encourage development in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, for pupils in years 6-12.

The students were guided through all stages of product development, from initial concept to final testing. Projects included designing and building a 4x4 vehicle, an aeroplane, a centrifuge, a bridge and tunnel for trains to use and a warship, all of which had to comply with certain criteria. Students were also faced with real-life issues including the need to work within a budget and make the project commercially viable.

Eddie describes his experience: For the first day we worked with the Royal Navy. We had to design and build polystyrene boats. We were given a set of targets which we needed to achieve through our design, such as stability, speed and height. This was interesting as these objectives sometimes compromised each other. Our group's design was by far the most stable but was let down by lack of speed when our propellers failed.

Then we worked with Transport for London. The project was to design a new bridge to put across the Thames. Even before that, we had to look at maps and data to decide the location that would be best. The site and design had to take into account the cost, the width to span and the required strength. Although our bridge was made mainly from balsawood, it was the heaviest of the designs but it did hold the most weight at 17.5kg.

Claire Fisher, spokesperson for The Smallpeice Trust commented: 'We are delighted to have been able to offer these budding engineers an opportunity to discover what a career in engineering could be like. The projects were led by some of the biggest names in the engineering industry, for which we are very grateful. All credit to the Year 8 and 9 students on the course as they embraced this opportunity and showed extreme dedication and enthusiasm to their projects and the course as a whole.'
St Benedict's pupil designs bridge across the Thames - Photo 1
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