From the start, an aim of the project has  been to go into schools and highlight issues of low-energy materials and sustainability to young people. It was rewarding to make that aspiration a reality on the 13th May, when we took the project into a Birmingham School.

The enthusiastic response we had from the Y10 students was phenomenal. Within minutes of them getting their hands on rolled newspaper, they were coming across challenges. Although they didn’t have the technical language to discuss things in terms of bending stresses, tension, and compression, they had an inate understanding that, for example, paper is stiffer when rolled into tubes.

In two hours, a group of thrity students build three newspaper arches spanning about 3m each. Admittedly, there were some interesting priorities – getting your name written on it is much more important than it standing up, right?

The most traumatic forty minutes came when I stood in front of a class and gave a brief talk and a practical lesson on stiffening paper to make bridges, so much more intimidating than a room full of directors! The students made it much easier than I was expecting, and seemed really interested.

The Gradautes and Students from the committee did an amazing job of handling the structure building, taking responsibility for groups as if they’d be teaching all their lives. There is definately the possibility to take the educational aspects of the project further – there are ongoing talks, watch this space!

Advertisements