Mission possible: boys take on the task of solving a real-world problem

Mission possible: boys take on the task of solving a real-world problem

Boys in Year 8 pitted their talents against each other in a competitive Dragons’ Den-style challenge, first designing an innovative product and then pitching it at the end of the day.

The event, held as part of the School’s Enrichment Week, aimed to get boys using skills in the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

They had to design a product to solve a real-world problem, while also considering their marketing and business proposition. To create their prototypes, the participants were allocated a budget which they could use to buy the basic materials (such as card, tape and wooden sticks) from a ‘market’ in the hall.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This event encompassed problem-solving and combining knowledge of science, product design, technology, finance and business acumen to come up with a new product that was a practical proposition – and all in the space of a day. The boys successfully produced some very interesting and promising proposals.”

All boys in Year 8 took part in the challenge, which was split across two days. It was led by Simon Kettle, Executive Director of STEMworks, a not-for-profit company dedicated to promoting STEM. Simon also judged the boys’ projects.

Afterwards, Simon said: “The students were given the opportunity to design and develop ideas that use some new, cutting-edge technologies. I talked through a few new materials and the associated technology – and the students did the rest. They came up with a wide range of new product ideas, with the best being presented in the Dragons’ Den.”

The winners’ product on the first day, which they named SOLAcharge, used small portable solar panels to charge a mobile phone. The second-day winners designed Simon’s particular favourite – SafeSensors, a sports helmet which not only protected the head but also had built-in impact sensors that could notify the team coach or doctor of any impact that would require a player to be treated or substituted (in cases of concussion, for example).

Other ideas included mobile phones with in-built smoke alarms, smart baths (that would self-regulate temperature and could not over-fill), and even a helmet capable of styling the wearer’s hair!