Preparing for GMEC19

I thought I would share with you the work we have been doing in Year 5 to prepare for this year’s Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge. The format has changed from last year and now focuses more on developing skills through engaging children in the Engineering Design Process and introducing Engineering Habits of Mind – the characteristics that engineers use in their day to day jobs.

The theme is ‘Engineering Improves Lives’ and there are five key topics:

  • plastics
  • air pollution
  • homelessness
  • dementia
  • loneliness

These have been specifically chosen as they appear to be subjects which  are more likely to engage girls in engineering, as they include a social responsibility aspect.

Any school can take part by signing up at the following link:

A series of excellent resources are available to download from the website:

A couple of weeks ago I tried out the Imagine & Plan session with our Year 5s at Rode Heath. To keep things simple, I just focused on the topic of Homelessness. After a brief discussion around the topic the children were given a picture of a homeless person and asked to think about the problems they might face .

There was a real buzz around the room with some very interesting ideas being aired amongst the groups. I was particularly struck by the thought that getting to sleep would be quite difficult as there would be a lot of noise and light from nearby traffic – something I had not thought of.

The children were then asked to pick some of the problems and try and come up with potential products that might solve them.

Again, the children were extremely animated and generated some interesting ideas. There was such an eagerness to share that we ran out of time and had to organise another session for the following week.

This actually worked out extremely well, as it transpired that Charlotte’s mother worked with the homeless in Stoke so we quickly arranged for her to come in and talk to us about her role. It is always worth asking if parents have relevant knowledge they can share. In my experience they are generally very willing to come into school and talk to children. It certainly adds weight to your lesson and, in Mrs Millns’ case, she was able to use her experience to judge and provide valuable feedback on the children’s ideas.

The next step was for the children to choose their best idea and then design a product around it. This involved not only visualising the solution but coming up with a presentation to promote the product to Mrs Millns and the rest of the class.

Isaac – super enthusiastic as ever – had brought in a prototype of his design from the previous week:

Liliana had also worked on a design at home:


As a final exercise – in order to try and make it easier to choose children to take to the event in Manchester and to have a record for the Log Books  – I set them some homework. They were to refine their ideas on a planning sheet.

Here are a few examples:

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Who to choose?




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