4 MIN READ
Inspiring the next generation of engineers: ready, set, go!
A team of 10 recently spent time working on an engineering challenge with a local primary school. I’m not sure we could ever have been truly ready for the experience: facing a group of eager 8 and 9 year olds in a school classroom… but we did get set and we did go! And we had a ball!
It started as casual/informal conversations by the coffee machine – “I’m interested in promoting STEM subjects within schools”, and “Young girls need to know engineering is not just for boys” which happened to align with “I have contacts at a local school who would love to have some external input into their ‘inventions’ topic”. A few weeks later we were standing up in a classroom with Calpol syringes and inhalers asking students if they knew what a medical device was and if they had ever used one. We listened to many stories about old Aunt Hilda who had just come out of hospital after her knee replacement. We were amazed by the problem-solving skills displayed by the students when designing a peak flow meter, inspired by a toy that you blow into to make a plastic ball rise into the air.
Then came the big challenge – designing an emergency vehicle to help Edgar the egg, who had fallen from a tree, get to hospital (we sidestepped the question about how armless Edgar managed to get up the tree in the first place – these kids don’t miss a trick!) The children used this challenge to work through our product development process: defining requirements, creating and evaluating concepts, detailing the final design and making sure it is tested along the way.
The challenge culminated in a final test session on 12th July. The three school classes tested their amazing creations to see which class had come up with the best designs.
We were all inspired to see the thought and effort that the teams of students had put into their emergency vehicles and the enthusiasm with which they tested them. All the vehicles successfully reached Edgar the Egg and delivered him safely to hospital. It was a loud, exhilarating and exhausting afternoon for everyone.
But there are always designs which are more successful than others – and our three winning class teams achieved a speedy and safe delivery of our injured patient to hospital, while also surviving obstacles and looking great in the process!
The winning vehicle designs
So would we do it again? Absolutely! We’ve learned from our experience and after reading all the ‘thank you’ cards sent by the children, who wouldn’t want to do it all over again?