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Second Prize for Future Engineers from The Big Bang Classroom Challenge

Friday, 06 February 2015

In June 2014, a group of twenty-four Year 10 girls entered The Big Bang Classroom Challenge, a national competition designed to help young people aged eight to sixteen learn more about civil engineering and sustainability. It is run by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), with prizes provided by civil engineering company Topcon.

The girls had very little time to respond to the competition, as the deadline was the 1st of July and they could only start work after completing their summer examinations! However, by dividing into smaller teams to tackle key areas, they were able to make the enormous task manageable.

The girls had to imagine what life would be like in 2064 – fifty years in the future – and produce novel solutions for a sustainable community housing project set in a disused sports stadium. They had to anticipate housing issues and a whole host of different requirements including water, waste, transport, ground engineering, and energy. The proposal was presented as an article in a ‘Newspaper of the Future’. The challenge really inspired the girls, who worked independently to create their ‘Future Times’ mostly during breaks, lunchtimes and at home. They were supported by Mrs Keenan, Mr Ball, Miss Langley, and a range of other Girls’ Division teachers, who offered expert knowledge in the research areas.

Francesca Chuck, who acted as the Project Manager, said, “The ICE competition was an opportunity to explore the possibilities of engineering and architecture in the future and understand in depth the importance of technology in our society. The competition allowed us to develop our teamwork skills and expand our knowledge and interest in a career in science.”

The other girls involved with the project were Natasha Bagnall, Olivia Broadhurst, Priya Chevli, Aishwarya Chohan, Sreya Coomer, Morgan Crawshaw, Daisy Forshaw, Chandrani Gupta, Lucie Hardman, Lauren Hurst, Khadijah Ismail, Emma Jackson, Shivani Manoharen, Ashleigh Meech, Amelia Myatt, Georgina Owen, Elena Payne, Natalie Reddecliff, Anna Rowlands, Georgia Simmons, Charlotte Stamper, Eve Stephenson and Evangeline Wright. All of the girls are now in Year 11.

Design and Technology teacher Miss Langley said, “The ‘Future Times’ newspaper was lively, innovative and very well presented. The girls predicted future engineering solutions that they think will be relevant in fifty years’ time, in areas such as alternative energy sources, innovative transport solutions and smart buildings.”

The girls’ efforts won them second place overall in the competition. Their prize of a measuring tool and their certificate were presented to the group during Assembly by Mr Malcolm Duncan, a representative from ICE North West, and Mr Andrew Clifton from Topcon.

Mr Duncan said, “The girls have done a fantastic job and on behalf of the Institution I heartily congratulate them. I hope some of them go on to become civil engineers – the UK is facing a skills gap, and women are under-represented in engineering – and those young women who join our profession will indeed help shape the future.

“There are huge challenges ahead, ranging from designing flood defences and clean energy systems to help us adapt to climate change, to making sure our transport networks and sewage systems meet the needs of a growing population. Bolton School is doing an excellent job encouraging young people in this way.”

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Mr Duncan and Mr Clifton presented the measuring tool and certificate

Mr Duncan (left) and Mr Clifton presented the measuring tool and certificate to the team, pictured with Science Prefect Madison Brownley and Miss Langley