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National Science and Engineering Week

Tuesday 13th March 2012

If you are looking for inspiration for National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) then take a look at the STEM challenges from Practical Action.  These popular challenges are hands on activities set within a global context, so your students are finding out about how science and engineering is used for the benefit of poor people in the developing world.

The 'squashed tomato challenge' is a problem solving activity based around a problem faced by farmers in Nepal: how do you transport tomatoes down a mountainside without getting them  squashed?  Students are asked to design and make a model of a possible solution.  Support material includes teacher and students’ notes, student worksheets, downloadable certificates for all the pupils and a link to a video showing the real solution in Nepal (a gravity ropeway). Suggestions are also given for extension activities.  

The 'wind power challenge' for primary schools is equally suitable for secondary school students.  Working in groups and using scrap material students design and make a simple turbine that can be powered by a hairdryer.  A poster showing different styles of blades used for different purposes, certificates and teachers notes are provided.

For a more design and technology focused activity try the 'Small is…challenge'.  The starting point is a colourful two meter long timeline, free to schools upon request.  Students first look at technologies of the past 100 years then design a sustainable product for the future.  Student worksheets which include an evaluation of the activity are provided plus a pdf presentation to share with students that sets the challenge.  You will be amazed what your students come up with!

Practical Action also provides a whole range of other material including posters, activities, videos and images.  All focus on global issues such as sustainability, climate change and renewable energy and support the national curriculum. 

For more information and a link to their site go the Practical Action page. 


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