The learning initiative, which took place at Royal Alexandra & Albert School, was organised by education charity SATRO and sponsored by construction company Beard. The initiative aims to help youngsters develop science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills through hands-on project experience, working with industry professionals. Through the scheme, SATRO hopes to provide a fun yet realistic experience of working in STEM-related jobs and encourage more young people into STEM careers.
Working in six teams of eight, the youngsters were tasked with constructing a 1.5 metre span bridge with rolled-up paper, masking tape, string and nuts and bolts. Using inspiration from real-life bridges, the teams had to agree the design of their structure and how they would build it using ‘arch’, ‘truss’ or ‘suspension’ techniques. The challenge included pricing up the project and making sure their bridge was cost-effective to build. Each bridge was then tested with weights and teams had to give a presentation justifying their costs to a panel of judges.
The pupils also benefitted from a presentation delivered by Beard Assistant Site Manager, Lewis Andrews, about working in the construction industry.
“These hands-on events are a great way to get young people thinking about the world around them and how it is made,” said Guy Hannell, Beard Guildford Director. “At a time when our sector faces a serious skills shortage, we hope that initiatives like the SATRO Year 8 Engineering Construction Challenge will aid and inspire young people to follow a career in STEM-related subjects. It has been a pleasure to work with SATRO again on this very worthwhile and career-shaping event, which is our third this year.”
Beard will be supporting two more Year 8 Engineering Construction Challenges with SATRO this month at Hinchley Wood School in Esher, and Collingwood College in Camberley.
Ingrid Rolland, a science teacher at Royal Alexandra & Albert School, said: “We were happy to host this construction challenge for our own pupils and pupils from other local schools. The task mirrored real-life projects that pupils might face when they are older. It was a worthwhile exercise, and tested pupils’ skills in engineering and project management.”