Sometimes it feels as though you are swimming against the tide and there have certainly been moments during our Think Like an Engineer project when the going has been tough. Maintaining motivation and direction is tricky when faced with the demands of an already over faced primary curriculum.
Support is a key to success
Fortunately, at Rode Heath we have had the support of many organisations and people who have facilitated our progress over the past four years:
- STFC who, during the initial stages of our engineering journey, provided access to engineering apprentices over a six-week period.
- Individuals such as Marc Fouldes from Siemens who has delivered regular engineering workshops to our KS2 classes.
- Visiting ambassadors ranging from Pete Lomas of Raspberry Pi fame to members of RAF Cosford offering expertise on our many whole school engineering days.
- And more recently, Cheshire East Highways who sponsored the printing of 3,000 of our Engineering Log books allowing many schools in Cheshire East to follow our programme.
For the past three years we have also taken part in the excellent Greater Manchester Engineering Challenge (GMEC), a campaign devised by the University of Manchester’s Science and Engineering Education Research Innovation Hub (SEERIH) to inspire 7-14 year olds to engage with engineering using project-based tasks linked to the National Curriculum: https://seerih-innovations.org/tinkering4learning/gmec/
All the above, I believe have been contributing factors to us continuing our efforts.
Does engineering make a difference?
One of the questions we are asked most, is what impact the project is having on our Rode Heath pupils. As teachers, we can point to increases in resilience, confidence, problem solving and communication skills, but hard evidence is difficult to find. That is why I was delighted this month to learn of the success achieved by two of our Year 6 pupils, prize winners in this year’s Great Exhibition at Home competition – an event sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering: https://www.big-ideas.org/join1851/
Isaac and Lili were placed 2nd overall for their invention – the ‘pollution solution’ – designed to harvest plastic from the North Atlantic Garbage Patch. Moreover, theirs was the top-scoring entry for primary schools in the country, winning a trophy for Rode Heath. This was a considerable accomplishment, as the competition was open to a wide range of pupils from Year 4 to Year 12 and had to be completed at home during lockdown.
The competition meant Isaac and Lili working together via Zoom on a 7-week STEM adventure. Each week they learned about a different invention from the original Great Exhibition and took part in an engineering challenge. The competition culminated in the production of a one-minute video which showcased their solution to the question: How can engineering help protect the planet?
For more information about the winners follow this link: https://www.big-ideas.org/the-great-exhibition-at-home-2020-prize-winners/
You can watch Isaac and Lili’s prize-winning video here: https://youtu.be/YBBuMfKHvyM
For me, this feat validates the integration of engineering into our curriculum over the past four years and is why we will continue to fly the engineering flag at Rode Heath whilst encouraging other schools to join us.
With the curriculum currently focused heavily on maths and literacy, it is perhaps even more important to inspire children with some real-world creative learning.
NOTE: Any company wishing to sponsor the printing of more Engineering Log Books for schools, please contact me. You can access an example of one completed by different year groups here: https://thinklikeanengineerproject.com/ehoms/completed-engineering-log-book/