Students from across Belfast recently took part in Rotary Ireland’s annual Technology Tournament which saw them set the task of engineering a bridge which allowed access into a busy port.
The event took place as part of the Big Bang Event held at Ulster University.
10 teams from secondary schools across the city were challenged to the system.
The tools in their inventor’s kit included jumbo straws, plasticine, string, drawing pins and card – all of which were used to design and create this fully-functioning feat of engineering during one school day.
The winning team from Grosvenor Grammar School stood out from the crowd by completing the task swiftly. They effectively created a sturdy bridge with a fully-functioning pully system, the basics of which the students had learnt in their technology classes.
The future is in the hands of our young people and both our organisations believe that STEM subjects will play a pivotal role in the future of the Northern Ireland economy.”
The project required the students to use the theory they had learnt and put it into practice, all under time constraints and working as a team.
Karen Blair, President of Belfast Rotary and avid supporter of the development of young people and the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) said: “This has been a hugely exciting event for Rotary Ireland and we are delighted that Rotary Ireland’s Technology Tournament has featured as one of the key competitions at the Big Bang event.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Grosvenor Grammar School and all of the other schools who took part in this fantastic event.
“Northern Ireland has a lot of very talented young people and one of our many objectives is to further support the development of STEM subjects amongst the young people of Ireland.
“This event is a great way of doing that as the enthusiasm, competitiveness and of course camaraderie has been evident throughout the entire day.
Karen concluded: “We hope that by supporting and nurturing these events, that students will further develop much-needed skills and have the opportunity to progress further in life while ultimately benefiting industry by having innovative employees.”
Each team was assessed by a small panel of Rotarians and industrialists including an engineer from Edge Innovate, a representative from the University of Ulster, plus a Rotarian.
Each of the judges has backgrounds in engineering, technology, enterprise and education who, during the task, also help to steer the teams by asking pointed questions.
Emma McMillan, Head of Technology at Grosvenor was thrilled that her pupils came out on top, speaking at the event.
She said: “Today has been a fantastic day for all of the pupils involved and I would like to thank Rotary for introducing such a fantastically innovative competition.
“Today’s event has further encouraged our young people to see design and technology as attractive and challenging, and it has provided opportunities for team building and practising communication skills, as well as resolving a design and technology problem.
“I am immensely proud of our pupils who worked so well as a team and have shown that they have the operational and manufacturing skills required to do well in this subject.”
The Big Bang event was organised by Sentinus, a Northern Ireland charity which promotes the development of STEM subjects.
They provide a wide range of programmes designed to support the teaching and learning of these subjects, particularly within a real-world context.
I am immensely proud of our pupils who worked so well as a team.”
The overall objective of the charity is to help secure a consistent flow of talented young people into the STEM sector.
Bill Connor, CEO, Sentinus, is delighted to see Rotary Ireland’s ongoing involvement at the event.
He said: “We have always enjoyed a mutual understanding with Rotary Ireland, who are also heavily involved with supporting young people and their education.
“We believe their involvement with the Big Bang event and the Technology Tournament provides a great synergy with Sentinus and what we are trying to promote.
“The future is in the hands of our young people and both our organisations believe that STEM subjects will play a pivotal role in the future of the Northern Ireland economy.”