Year 6 desk designs for Siemens

What an amazing relationship Rode Heath is developing with Siemens in Congleton.

Earlier this year Marc Fouldes and Joanne Mellor spent the day with Years 5 & 6 teaching them about the Lean principles of manufacturing. And, on Wednesday 22nd March, the Year 6 class visited the Congleton site to learn which pupil was the successful winner of the Desk Design competition.

The children had been tasked in February with creating their ideal desk for the classroom. They had to think about the positive aspects of their existing desks and how they could be improved. Questions such as ideal height, shape, adjustability and comfort were considered.

Having planned their designs, the children then drew them in their Engineering Log Books and a number were put forward to Siemens for judging. The winning desk was then drawn on a Siemens CAD system and put into the VR Cave for the children to view in 3D on their arrival.

Here are a few of the shortlisted designs:-

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The winning desk was designed by Charlotte Hibberd, who impressed the judges with her attention to detail and the excellent range of gadgets that she had included.

Charlotte 1Charlotte 2

Charlotte has written about the day:-

Visit to Siemens

We were asked by Siemens to design our own desk as part of our Engineering Project. My design had a pop-up Google screen, a drinks container and a spell check button on it. Siemens created the winning desk in their virtual reality room and I was lucky enough to win the ‘create a desk’ competition. We visited Siemens so that all the class could see my design come to life.

When we arrived at Siemens we had a presentation about all the work that they company does around the world.

Afterwards, we were taken to the virtual reality room, which had a computer with a 3D screen and a controller to move the 3D image around. I saw my own desk come to life on the 3D screen. I could move the desk about, walk around it and pretend to site on the chair; it looked exactly like my design. It was so cool!

For the next activity, we split into groups of 5 to play a team building game called ‘Sneak a Peek’. Each team took it in turns to send a spy to look at a Lego model of a building. They had to return to the team to tell them what to build with their Lego pieces to recreate the building. They were not allowed to touch the Lego themselves. Each person had a turn at being the spy. I found it tricky not to touch the Lego myself and trying to tell the others which pieces to move was not easy either.

It was a really interesting day out – the best bit was seeing my own design for real!

By Charlotte Hibberd

And here are the CAD drawings of her desk.

What an amazing experience! I can’t wait to see what are next joint venture will be!

Thank you so much Siemens.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



I’m An Engineer Get Me Out of Here

imascientist-logoOver the past few weeks Year 4 have been taking part in the I’m An Engineer Get Me Out of Here event funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. This is a free online event where school students meet and interact with engineers. Before the event started, the children were asked to think of three questions that they could ask about engineering. Some excellent examples were generated.

We spent the first Monday afternoon following the half-term holiday looking at the website and getting to know the engineers – what their hobbies were, what music they liked etc. We then, as a class, decided what we thought the 5 most important criteria were for an engineer. There was a long list to choose from, but after some debate, we agreed on the following (in no particular order):-

  1. My work finds new uses for unwanted materials.
  2. My work helps save people’s lives.
  3. I work to make our soldiers safer.
  4. I make things really efficient.
  5. I go to events like lectures and press conferences to tell people about my work.

There was then an opportunity for the children to start posting some of their questions onto the website. We had opted for what was called the Ampere Zone which was general engineering. This fitted in well with our current Electricity topic, as we were able to look at the meaning of ampere and were it originated.

As this was a general engineering zone, the six engineers we were chatting with were from very different backgrounds – all very interesting: – one makes the water flushed from toilets drinkable, one builds wind farms in Africa and one studies how to create new smart and flexible wings for airplanes; one 3D prints spaceships, satellites and armoured fighting vehicles out of metal, one manages distance learning programmes, and another designs systems that drive trains automatically. Wow! Lot of potential here for learning.

Our questions posted, we sat back and waited. Over the next few days we checked the website on a regular basis to see if we had received any answers. The children each had their own individual user names and passwords, so they could do this at home, as well. Most mornings someone came in with the exciting news that they had received a response. We made sure that they were printed out and stuck in our Homework books with the original questions.

Here are some of the answers we received. See if you can work out the questions!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Tuesday 16th March, we had booked a Live Chat with the engineers. This involved half an hour of the children bombarding the engineers with questions in a live session. The conversations were tracked on the screen and there was a whoop of excitement whenever someone had their question answered. Everyone was very engaged during the half hour and all agreed that it was a very worthwhile activity to take part in and they would recommend it to other teachers. All I can say, is that it must have been exhausting for the engineers at the other end, trying to keep up with 32 children typing at them!


The children kept a note of the answers they received and copied them into their books immediately after the session. It has certainly given them a lot to think about, and widened their understanding of what it means to be engineer.

There was also a link that appeared on the screen after the live session had finished, which allowed us to download the entire chat transcript.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in promoting engineering in their school. And, it was very easy to do.



Programming Drones in Year 4

Today was our first Rodeheath session with Skill Supply, learning about drones. The Year 4s were very excited and clearly demonstrated their growing understanding of engineering with their confident responses to questions. They could tell their instructors that engineers: “Make new things, but also improve existing products by making them better.” And, they talked knowledgeably about the Engineering Habits of Mind that engineers use in their day to day work – habits that we are introducing throughout the school with our Think Like an Engineer project.


When the children arrived this morning they were surprised to see a large enclosure.

All in all, this day’s activity fitted in perfectly with our goals. Initially, the children were given a series of pictures and asked to identify how drones might be used in different situations. This generated some very imaginative and interesting answers. It was agreed that there were many positive uses, including transporting medical supplies to remote areas and using thermal imaging technology to trace people trapped as a result of natural disasters.

Soon it was time to try some activities. The first was simply to programme the drone to move forwards and then backwards from and to a designated point. This was to help the children decide how to judge distances using time and motion. The children were using Parrot Drones and programming using Tynker Coding – an app which looks just like Scratch, something they are very familiar with.

To contain the drones and ensure that the activities were both safe and manageable, a large enclosure had been erected in the classroom, surrounded by thick black netting. The children worked very successfully in groups of three, with half the groups flying the drones at any one time. Each group was provided with an engineering workbook into which all their planning, programming, reflection and improvements were entered. Different roles were assigned to the children, which they then swapped around as the activities progressed. By the end of the day this meant that everyone had tried each responsibility.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not everyone succeeded first time with their programming, especially as the tasks become more complex, but each group learned from their experiences and could modify their code to improve their outcomes.

One of the important lessons learned was that reducing the speed of the drone to 50% gave a better result. By repeatedly trying out the code, the children were soon able to work out how far their drones would travel in a defined number of seconds: at 50% speed, this was about 0.5m per second – still quite fast. Having learned this, it became much easier to place their drones in specific locations. There was also an ‘emergency’ piece of code, which could be activated if the drone got into difficulty – something which happened quite frequently at the beginning, as the over exuberated children sent their drones hurtling into the netting at the back. The emergency feature stopped the props spinning immediately and saved the motors from burning out. It soon became fairly redundant though as the children become more proficient.

The second task was entitled “Prime Delivery” and this mimicked sending the drone to deliver a parcel safely. The children had to land the drone at the back of the enclosure, wait (for the parcel to be retrieved) and then come back to base. I was really pleased to see how the children were learning from their first task and this was executed much more successfully by most groups.

One of the useful tasks that drones undertake is to inspect buildings as they are being erected. This makes life much quicker and safer for the engineers. The third task was called ‘High Rise’ and involved the children sending the drone around a set of steps and landing on one of the levels, before returning safely to base. This proved more challenging for the Year 4s; although they persevered well and just found they had to adapt their code more often this time.

It was great to see the children so engaged on their tasks and lovely to hear the absolute whoops of joy as their missions met with success. I will be intrigued to read the entries in their workbooks to see how they have documented their approaches to problem solving and adapting their initial ideas.

Thank you, Skill Supply, for a wonderful day – the first of many drone workshops. Indeed, we are looking forward to receiving the Airblock modular drones that we backed earlier in the year on Kick Starter. Now, I feel that we have a good grounding in how to operate them.

Here are some thoughts on how the children felt they were using EHoM: