Making aerial ropeways at INTECH science centre

May 6th, 2011

STEM squashed tomato challengeToday was a real treat for me.  I got to see lots of groups of 12 to 13 year old students taking part in the Squashed Tomato Challenge, a challenge inspired by my visit to Nepal a year ago.  The students were doing the challenge as part of a day organised by the education team at INTECH in Winchester.  They had been told about the problem faced by farmers in Nepal, that of transporting tomatoes down a mountainside and were designing model systems that could help solve the problem.

As Robin Barclay, one of their teachers said to me ‘the students are really getting involved, it’s great to see them working together and coming up with solutions.  It brings in the sustainability angle as well which is so important now in everything we teach.’

Their designs were measured on how many tomatoes they could transport in two minutes, reliability of the system and ease of operation.  Points were deducted for dropped and squashed tomatoes and any human ‘intervention’ that took place to make the system work.

Mrs Webb, the students’ science teacher thought the activity was ‘fantastic’ because it showed them how they could relate what they learnt to a real life situation.  She told me how they had completed a unit on forces recently but until now didn’t see how that could be applied.

As for the students when I asked an excited Vienna Dale how her team got on she said ‘We did amazing, we moved about 20 tomatoes and only squashed two.  It was hard though having to think of a design that would work and get the tomatoes down in quite a short time’

Students working hard but enjoying themselves and finding out about technology used by Practical Action ….that has to be a good thing if you ask me!!


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