Technology tournament highlights real-world importance of STEM subjects

More than 50 young people demonstrated their problem-solving and construction skills during the first regional Rotary Technology Tournament to take place in Kent.

Aged 11 to 19, the students represented their schools in teams of four, taking on unseen challenges that tested their aptitude in design, technology and engineering.

Supported by the Rochester Bridge Trust, the challenges – which were split into three aptitude levels – saw the contestants designing two bridges: one fixed and one movable to allow ships with tall masts to pass.

Trust Education Officer Aileen White explained: “As a country, we need to double the number of people graduating in engineering, which means school subjects such as Science, Maths and Design and Technology are of vital importance.

“In teaming up with the Rotary Club to host this technology tournament we aim to encourage more young people to appreciate the real-world importance of the STEM subjects and to realise the potential of engineering as a career.

“Seeing the way the teams worked together to tackle the challenge and come up with sensible, practical solutions, I believe we definitely have some very promising future engineers in our midst.”

In the foundation group (age 11-14) Rainham Girls Grammar School took the top prize, with teams from Westlands School in Sittingbourne winning the intermediate (14-16) and advanced (16-19) groups respectively.

Peter Humphries, Assistant Headteacher of Westlands School, said: “It was an excellent day at the Technology Tournament and I’m very proud of my pupils. They worked so well in their teams and learnt some valuable lessons about problem solving in engineering. I’m very pleased we have two winning teams.

“Events like this do so much to enthuse and motivate the students.”

The day of activities was organised by the Rochester Bridge Trust and run by four Rotarians from Hertfordshire.

Aileen added: “This was the first Rotary Technology Tournament to take place in Kent, but Rotary Technology Tournaments have been offered for more than 20 years in other parts of the country. Rotary Club has many creative youth engagement projects that support young peoples’ learning. These projects support the school curriculum and help children flourish.

“The aim of the day – in addition to challenging the children – was to showcase the potential of these activities to our local Rotary clubs, with a view to holding more Kent events. I’m very pleased with the success of the day and potential for the future.”

To see photographs from the day visit the Exploring Engineering Facebook page.

See for information about the Rotary Club’s youth competitions.

If you’d like to read more about the day from the perspective of one of the schools taking part, download an extract from the Northfleet School for Girls’ February 2017 newsletter here.

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