Future engineers from Holywell School test their boat building skills
Children from Holywell School put their design and building skills to the test in the first Big Boat Build. This initiative by Cranfield University is to inspire future engineers to test their boats against a 30m wave machine.
The aim is to encourage young people to engage with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) activities. This challenge shows how dynamic and exciting hands-on science can be.
The University’s wave tank facility is normally used to research marine structural concepts for things like wind turbines at sea and their behaviour while in the ocean.
Professor Phil Hart, Director of Energy and Power, saw the potential of the tank to engage with the local community and use the world-class facilities to inspire school children and help them learn, while they having fun. He said:
“It’s brilliant to see the thought and design that has gone into the children’s boats. The challenge has been full of drama, with some clear winners and some boats capsizing! It is great to encourage these budding engineers into what is a dynamic and exciting career.”
How it works
The Big Boat Build starts with children designing and building their boats at school. On their arrival at Cranfield University, they learn about how the wave machine works and how it can change conditions such as wave height and frequency. Then their boats are lowered into the tank where the testing begins.
The older year 7 students were invited to create their boats with motors to test their skills and see what difference turning on the motor has on their boats success against the wave machine.
Commenting on the Big Boat Build, teacher Peter Salamon, from Holywell School, said:
“It offers a fantastic opportunity to take students out of traditional lessons and focus on design and other elements of STEM, before putting their creations to the test.”
For the students, such as Adam aged eleven he learn that “different boats suit different waters” and that despite thinking his boat would do well, the best part of the day was “watching all the boats capsize“. The enjoyment for Aubrey, aged 10, was “seeing how it all works and the massive tank“.
When asked about her design, Aubrey shared her team’s ideas for their boat who “wanted it to be curved at the bottom so it wasn’t flat and we wanted the boat to be thick but not too thick. To know which one was ours we put a lightning bolt on it”.
With the success of the first Big Boat Build, the university hope to open the world of engineering to the next generation of engineers.