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60,000 pieces of Knex were used to make this machine from Downham Market




A woman engineer has crafted an incredible working tunnel boring machine from 60,000 pieces of children’s building bricks in the hope it will be a new world record.

Sarah Jobliffe, a sustainability manager from Downham has a background in civil engineering and has used her skills to craft an impressive structure from Knex, a toy construction system.

The amazing working model made from the popular building bricks was on display at Hillcrest Primary School in Downham on Friday, to demonstrate to the pupils that STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Maths) can be fun.

Gemma Farr, who works at Hillcrest said: “I’ve helped Sarah organise this and other STEM events. Sadly we haven’t had STEM week because of Covid and this will make up for it. There’s a big gap in the market for construction skills so we would hope it would be inspiring.”

Ms Jobliffe said: “Definitely want to get women into science. However, conversely this machine is named ‘Lawrence’ after my grandfather, who inspired me to get into engineering- typically we use the name of female engineers but I thought Lawrence was appropriate.”

Ms Jobliffe’s efforts to create the structure have kept her going throughout lockdown, with the project starting in March.

She said: “I just started it out of boredom, I’ve always loved Knex and encourage people to get into it.

“It got too big for the house, then the shed and now I’ve brought it here on a trailer! There isn’t a tunnel boring machine made out of Knex so hopefully we can get it in the record books.

“They have to come and count every piece.”

The children looked in awe at the structure, which even featured Knex characters working on little bridges.

The verdict of one pupil in reception class: “So cool!”

The engineer demonstrated how to switch the machine on, and videos of it working can be seen on her YouTube named Carbon Reduction Theory.



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