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3M - Young innovators meet the challenge

 Balloon power - one of many ways of propelling models in the Make it Move Challenge

20th May 2013

A Young Innovators Challenge run by the Loughborough site proved such a success that it is being repeated again next year – and may be replicated by other sites as well.

It was organised in partnership with the Loughborough Echo newspaper and attracted entries from schools across the paper’s wide circulation area.

The event culminated in an awards night where the prizes were presented by Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan in front of hundreds of pupils, parents and teachers, which was commemorated with a double-page feature in the newspaper.

“It was a brilliant night and a great way to round off the competition,” said Reputation Communications manager Rosalind Smith, who coordinated the Young Innovators Challenge with colleagues Julie Owen and Jess Romano.

“The aim of the challenge was to encourage young people to see the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths as fun and a path to a really interesting and worthwhile career.  We received excellent feedback from the schools that their pupils really enjoyed taking part.”

The Young Innovators Challenge was launched at an event held at the Loughborough site in January, attended by headteachers and heads of STEM subjects from local schools and colleges.  Through publicity in the newspaper and its own dedicated website, word soon spread across the district to attract a very large number of entries.

There were five challenges in all and one – the Science Detectives Challenge – was so oversubscribed that extra days had to be fitted in to accommodate all the schools wanting to take part.  This was eventually won by a four-strong team from De Lisle College, who received two iPads and digital microscopes for their school.

However the most popular category proved to be the Make it Move Challenge, with 25 teams from primary schools working on the design and construction of a model vehicle that could travel unaided over the greatest distance.  A team from Robert Bakewell School picked up the prize of £1,500 worth of Lego or Knex construction equipment.

The Future Learning Challenge set the entrants thinking of how a classroom of the future would deliver learning in 20 years time. Robotic teaching assistants and magical doors to the past came to mind for some and the winners of the 3M Multi Touch Display Screen were from Sacred Heart Catholic Academy.

A week’s work experience with the Loughborough Echo was the top prize for the Tomorrow’s News Challenge in which secondary school pupils had to compose a news story set in 2035.  This was won by a student at King Edward VII College.

Surprisingly, the final challenge to design a concept for a new and unique mobile app to help people better manage or improve their health did not attract any entries.

As well as the main prizes, all of the winners also received a £50 gift voucher each to spend on themselves.  There were also special awards presented to those who made outstanding contributions in certain categories.

Among the judges were 3Mers Chris Lomas in the Make it Move Challenge and Ammer Ishaque in the Future Learning Challenge.

In presenting the prizes, Nicky Morgan told the young finalists:  “It’s fantastic to see so many young people interested and inspired by science and engineering. If you want to see the words ‘created in Britain’ more and more, it’s going to be people like you we look to.

“Based on the evidence we’ve seen, engineering of the future is in very safe hands”.

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