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Junior House Engineering Competition tests boys’ ingenuity and innovation

Second Year boys are putting their skills in creativity, innovation and teamwork to the test in the Junior House Engineering Competition.

In a ‘supercurricular’ programme being jointly run by the Physics and Design Technology teams, boys are taking on a series of challenges ahead of a grand final later in the academic year.

The latest round saw boys spending a couple of weeks designing (on computers) and building model rocket cars, before racing them over a distance of 50m at the School. The Whitworth team took the top honours – and the coveted trophy – after producing a rocket car which clocked up an amazing speed of more than 100mph.

Two boys from each House are working together to meet the series of challenges, with each session taking place on Mondays after normal lessons. 

The first round tested boys’ ingenuity in a slightly different way, as they had to ensure that an egg survived its journey after being dropped from on high in the School’s Barton Science Centre … with the rules stating that neither parachute, padding nor protection was allowed. With varying degrees of success, teams designed contraptions made from basic materials such as straws and A4 paper to safely catch the rapidly descending eggs.

Chris Powell, Head of Physics, said: “The main idea of the competition is to bring Physics and Design Technology to life, outside of normal classroom learning, and allow plenty of scope for creative thinking, innovation and fun along the way.

“I have been impressed with many of the design solutions that boys have come up with so far. Each new round also brings a challenge for the teachers to stay one step ahead and to bring out a little more ingenuity from the teams.”  

Without giving away too many trade secrets, one of the next rounds will involve producing ‘mousetrap cars’ – using springs from mousetraps to power wooden cars, some with CDs for wheels, with the winner being the one that covers the greatest distance.

The bridge building challenge will require boys to create structures from small sticks of wood, which will then be tested to the limit by gradually adding weights to the bridge centre, while in another round wooden glider planes, powered by rubber bands, will compete to see which can fly the furthest.  

Photos and video clips from the various rounds are available on the School’s three social media sites, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Pictured above and below: Boys designing, and then racing, their rocket cars. The top picture, below, shows Head of Physics, Chris Powell, presenting Whitworth boys with the trophy after the second round.