Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge (GMEC19)

Learning should always be about having fun. If children are engaged in their lessons, then they are much more likely to remember what they are being taught. A great way to embed learning is to provide children with hands-on activities – to challenge them to solve a problem by visualising, designing and making something – which is why, at Rode Heath, we base our lessons around Engineering Habits of Mind (EHOM).

And, with OFSTED encouraging schools to offer a ‘broad, rich and deep’ curriculum, now is an ideal time to take up the engineering mantle. An excellent way of doing this would be to take part in this year’s Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge (GMEC19).

Yesterday saw the launch of the third Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge (GMEC19) – sponsored by the IET and IMechE – with an immersion event for teachers across the Greater Manchester area. This is something that Rode Heath has been involved with since its inception in 2017 – first with the excellent Robot Orchestra and last year with the Marble Run Challenge. Indeed, it is Rode Heath’s engagement with the Robot Orchestra that started us on our amazing engineering journey.

Each year, I have personally become more involved in the projects and this year I was asked to develop and lead two of the sessions with Ainsley Moseley from Bowker Vale Primary.

So, what is GMEC19?

GMEC19 is open to all primary schools. Designed and run by the University of Manchester’s Science and Engineering Education Research Innovation Hub (SEERIH), it is aimed at pupils between the ages of 7 and 13, so KS3 pupils can take part too. This year the key message is ‘Engineering Improves Lives’ and comprises a series of activities focusing around five themes: air pollution, plastic, homelessness, dementia and loneliness. These topics have been specifically chosen as they are issues which impact society and the environment. More significantly, research indicates that engaging in engineering activities which involve social responsibility is a way of encouraging girls into the discipline.

Activities are all based around the Engineering Design Process and encourage children to use the six Engineering Habits of Mind as a way of working.






Register your school now

If you are interested in motivating your pupils and developing a more creative, hands-on curriculum in your school, then you should definitely consider registering for this event:

It’s completely free, there are simple lesson plans to follow and the impact on your pupils will be hugely positive.

For an overview of GMEC19 you can follow this link to the Intro Film:

There will be an additional briefing video launched on Tuesday 5th February.

The Immersion Day

The day kicked off with the excellent Lea Jagendorf from Fixperts ( who challenged the teachers to use their imagination and skills to create ingenious solutions for everyday problems that real people face.

These problems included:

  • Trying to slice a bagel with one arm
  • Trying to button up a shirt with arthritic hands
  • Trying to eat when you can’t bend your arm
  • Trying to turn the pages of a newspaper without fingers

To simulate the problem, teachers were given cardboard sleeves; rubber gloves with lolly sticks in the finger and knee bandages placed over a folded arm.

The resulting ideas for products were amazing.

All these activities can be tried out in your classroom. The equipment needed is minimal and very easy to acquire.

Imagine & Plan

The next session focused on the first two stages of the Engineering Design Process. Teachers were given a set of photographs representing Homelessness, Dementia and Loneliness and asked to think about the problems that people suffering from these issues faced.

They were then tasked with choosing one of the problems to develop a product for. The results were very inventive, and each group presented a completely different idea.

Create & Improve

The final session was entitled ‘Perch on Plastic’ and focused on the ever-growing plastic problem. Teachers were required to take recycled plastic and repurpose it into a piece of furniture that they could perch on for at least 30 seconds. Again, the results were amazing.

Perhaps the most pleasing part of the day was watching the faces of the teachers as they engaged with each activity. They were definitely having fun. And a special thanks must go to all the Siemens engineers who attended the event and supported the teachers in their endeavours.

The task now is for the teachers to try out these activities with their own classes. This to prepare children for the final GMEC Challenge on 19th March.

Anyone can take part in this exciting project. For more details follow this link:

Lesson plans and resources for the Imagine & Plan and Create & Improve activities can be accessed on the GMEC website.