Stoke Ferry students build bridges in engineering challenge
School pupils became civil engineers as part of a challenge run by Downham Market Rotary.
A whole day was set aside for pupils at All Saints Academy, Stoke Ferry, to team up and put their engineering skills to the test.
The challenge set was to build an animal bridge to be used in a nature reserve, wide enough for red squirrels to cross from one side of the path to the other to collect food, yet high enough to allow adults and children to walk under it.
Pupils from year 5/6 were encouraged to form teams of four and given a short presentation on what it means to be a civil engineer and the types of structures the profession builds such as roads, tunnels, bridges and airports.
A Rotary spokesperson said: “Children were in role as environmental civil engineers working for Stoke Ferry Nature
Reserve. Children had to design an animal crossing to go over a busy pathway in the animal sanctuary. All the designs were well thought through and survived the weight and wind test at the end. We were thoroughly impressed with the designs and how well the children worked together."
The challenge called on a combination of skills, including science, design, maths, teamwork, creativity, geography and problem solving.
The teams were encouraged to take on key roles such as architect, structural engineer, materials engineer and value engineer.
The Rotary Junior Technology tournament is a national initiative designed to promote careers in engineering and give pupils an idea of all of the elements involved.
Eight teams from All Saints Academy, which is part of the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust, assembled to take on the challenge.
The teams were provided with all necessary tools and materials and set to work creating bridges from paper, doweling, string, card, netting, cable ties and more.
The young engineers came up with a range of structures to impress the judges - focussing on building a structure that was sturdy enough to hold a small animal and face the harsh winds.
The winning team carefully planned their design on paper and worked together to produce a bridge that faced both tests at the end. They used the string and the doweling to create suspension and build a bridge that was strong and well supported. This team also carefully thought about the look of their design and made it camouflaged to fit into the outdoors.
The winning team of Oliver McFegan, Jac Walters, Isabella Spencer and Harry French were happily presented with medals by the Rotary club and were congratulated for their well thought and intuitively planned design.
A pupil said: "“I loved the wind test, it was great to see so many of our designs pass!”
Headteacher Katherine Howe said: “This has been a fantastic experience for the students and we’re really proud of how they threw themselves into the challenge, working well as teams and calling on all of the knowledge they learn day in, day out in their classes. The bridges were all very good and the students got so much out of the day. We’re very thankful to Downham Market Rotary for bringing the tournament to the school. Congratulations to the winning team.”