YOU can leave your iPads, your Wiis and your XBox 360s.
These bright young students found just as much fun from a box filled with balloons, straws, and cardboard.
The enthusiastic bunch gave their all in The Gazette’s Young Engineers STEM Skills Challenge on Monday, applying their knowledge of the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – to build something from nothing.
Teams of teenagers, aged 13, 14 and 15, from schools across Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde used the minimal resources to build a self-powering balloon buggy in the hope it would travel the furthest in a distance race.
Paul Matich, an executive from Cuadrilla Resources, said: “There were some really good ideas and designs so it was exciting seeing those put into action.”
Staff from Blackpool and The Fylde College’s engineering department and Cuadrilla Resources said it was great to see teenagers getting enthused about engineering.
Philip Lawrinson-Chettoe, head of further education in engineering at the College, said: “It makes our day to see that light switch on for them, they’ve loved the challenge and the competition.”
And teachers said seeing their children apply their knowledge and work well in teams made all the schools proud.
Gemma Moon, a science teacher at Unity College, on Warbreck Hill Road, Blackpool, said: “We brought children who have a keen interest in engineering, this gives them a chance to explore that and build on it.”
Millie Fielding, a Baines High School student from Poulton , consulted her family, including a grandfather who’s made a living from building MG cars, for tips ahead of the heats at the College’s Bispham Campus.
A delighted grandad David offered advice on aerodynamics and resistance to the 13-year-old.
After yesterday’s heats 10 out of the 28 teams won through to next month’s final.
Two teams each from Millfield Science College, AKS, Kirkham Grammar and St Georges School will join one team each from Highfield Humanities College and Unity College in the finals on March 22.
Unity College pupil Harvey Barnes, 14, from Grange Park, said: “I’ve learned about friction and aerodynamics, it was fun finding out how things work.”
Nicole Brown, 14, from Wesham, and a pupil at AKS, said: “We’ve learned a lot to take into the next round. It was interesting seeing how things came together.”
Pupils from ‘Team Millfield’ are hoping to continue their successes in the final, with all schools hoping to take home the first place prize of £10,000 – courtesy of Cuadrilla Resources.
Millfield Science College pupil Taylor Cash, 13, from Thornton, said: “It would be good to have the money to spend in our science department so we can do more experiments.”
The winning cars travelled up to 16 metres – around 13 metres further than The Gazette reporters’ own (just for fun) entry!
Gazette Editor Jon Rhodes said: “It may have been a fun day away from the classroom for these youngsters, but at the heart of the competition was innovation, problem solving and, above all else, working as a team. It was fantastic to see so many young engineers of the future.”