On Tuesday, as part of our Year 7 cross-curricular STEM Project about ‘bridges’, all of our Year 7 IGNITErs met four engineers who work for ‘4D Woolston’ and COSTAIN.

Our guests were:

  • Ruth, a civil engineer
  • Chris, a mechanical engineer who has recently graduated from university
  • Gemma, a civil engineer who specialises in waste water treatment systems
  • David, a civil engineer.
  • As David explained, their jobs were to help ensure that we, the public, have an infrastructure so we can carry out our daily lives. Engineers use, amongst other materials, steel and concrete to make structures such as buildings, bridges and roads, but also pipelines and oil rigs. You name it – a civil engineer and/or a mechanical engineer helped design and construct it!

All four of our guests work for 4D Woolston, where they are together employed to construct a waste water treatment plant for 68,000 people.

After introductions, the event was divided in to two:

  1. half of the students sat with Gemma and Chris, who ran Q+A sessions about their educational and career pathways that got them to the career and position they have today.
  2. the other students split in to two teams and had the simple task of constructing a bridge that spanned a 750mm gap. Students swapped sessions half way through the event.

The rules were:

  • The bridge must span the 750mm gap as one span (no supporting piers, etc.), only supported at either end
  • It must be a minimum of 8 blocks high
  • Teams have a 25 minute deadline to complete their bridge
  • Teams must work to a budget of £2000
  • ‘Regular’ LEGO blocks can be bought for £10, ‘special’ LEGO blocks at £50.
  • Teams will receive a bonus for every 5 minutes they finish before the deadline
  • The bridge will be tested by piling washers in the centre of the bridge, each washer gaining an extra profit of £100 for the team
  • The winner will be the team whose bridge can not only hold the most washers, but also make the largest profit.
  • The results were:
Team Cost of their bridge Number of washers the bridge held Profit made Overall cost of the bridge
1 £4,700 0 £0 -£4,700
2 £7,450 3 £0 -£5,100
3 £5,500 7 £700 -£2,850
4 £2,300 17 £1,700 £1,310
Congratulations to team 4 – clear winners!

We our very grateful to our guests and thank them for their time and for sharing their knowledge and expertise with our students.

Tags: Year 7, IGNITE