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AWE scientists plant seeds of STEM careers

Junior scientists from local schools took part in a fast and furious team competition to be crowned winners, in the final of the 2017 AWE Royal Institution Master Class series.

Students from Hurst community college, Willink School, Brighton Hill Community School, St Gabriel’s School, Downs School, Bishop Challoner Catholic Secondary School and St Barts School, took part in three motor engineering challenges.

Every team included students from each of the schools. They had a standard set of materials from which they had to design and construct a model car to race. To reflect real-world design pressures, the teams were given carbon credits to use to buy extra items and receive handy design hints – so they had to choose whether to go eco or loco!

But these were no ordinary models – they had to perform in three different formats. The first challenge was a drag race, using an electric motor, the second an endurance challenge, using elastic power and the third involved a nail-biting jump over a water pit to a finish line three metres away, using compressed air and water. To make the challenge even more fiendish, competitors were allowed to hurl tennis balls at their opponents’ cars in the drag race. The cars were modified by their teams, for each power source, in between the heats.

Organised by AWE graduates and apprentices, the annual event, spread over six weekly sessions, is designed to inspire pupils into careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This year’s event took place at the Hurst Community College and head teacher Roger Jones said: “I was really impressed by the enthusiasm and excitement that the students showed. Everyone attending was really inspired by the AWE scientists and the fantastic activities designed to deepen the students’ understanding of science.”

AWE scientist Jenny said that organising the series had been great fun: “The students were incredibly exciting to work with and asked some challenging questions, which showed they’ll have a bright future if they choose careers in science, engineering or technology.”

Callum Webb, a Year 9 pupil at the Hurst, agreed: “It was definitely an enlightening experience of science in the real world. I hope to pursue a career as a cosmologist or in astrophysics.”

Congratulations to the winning team, which had chosen the name ‘Sloth’ – clearly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The Royal Institution’s Mathematics, Engineering and Computer Science Masterclasses are hands-on, interactive extracurricular sessions led by top experts from academia and industry for keen and talented young people all around the UK.

The unique sessions go beyond the school curriculum and bring maths and engineering to life in surprising topics such as art and sculpture, design, medicine and cryptography. The Masterclasses aim to open the eyes of young people to the excitement, beauty and value of mathematics, engineering and computer science and in turn, inspire the next generation.

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