Pupils rise to animal crossing engineering challenge

Helping squirrels to safely cross a footpath was the task faced by youngsters from Burnt Oak Primary School when they took part in one of Rochester Bridge Trust’s Exploring Engineering Challenges.

Held as part of the school’s Science Week in June, the exercise saw 60 Year 3 pupils having to design and build a crossing or bridge to be used within an animal sanctuary.

During the day, pupils were challenged to ‘think like a civil engineer’ and asked to select appropriate materials and devise ways to join them together to build a strong structure.

Modelling the work of real-life civil engineers, the pupils had to consider the purpose of the crossing – to allow squirrels to cross over a footpath to get food – before starting construction.

It meant the scale model of the crossing had to be wide enough for the squirrels to use, strong enough to withstand weather conditions such as wind and rain, and high enough off the ground to allow people to walk underneath it.

The Animal Crossing Challenge has been developed by the Trust’s Education Team.

Education Officer Claire Saunders explained: “As in the real world, engineers must consider the best design for their structure, select appropriate materials and use them without wastage.

“This challenge encourages pupils to think about what they learn about materials, structures and forces in the classroom and apply it to a real-world context, applying and using knowledge and skills from science, maths and design and technology.”

The event was run as part of the Trust’s Virtual Engineering Experiences. The Education Team is able to join classrooms remotely via a range of platforms, including Teams and Google Classrooms, to host challenges and activities to support STEM learning.

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