Innovative students engineer final spot

Duchess's High School pupils at the Big Bang Fair.
Duchess's High School pupils at the Big Bang Fair.

Innovative students from an Alnwick school have competed in a renowned national science and engineering competition.

Duchess’s Community High School (DCHS) pupils Peter Skirrow, Joe Beeby, Jack Bagness, Zara Browell and Sarah Fyffe put their creative minds to the test at The Big Bang Fair 2013.

The prestigious event, held at the ExCeL London earlier this month, is the UK’s largest celebration of science and engineering for young people.

The DCHS pupils sealed a spot at the national finals after impressing at a regional contest with their eco-classroom concept.

Pupil Rosie Murton was part of the team but was unable to attend the event in the capital.

DCHS technology teacher Sarah Denton, who went to the London finals with colleague Mike Skinner, said: “The students worked really hard and it was very rewarding to get to the finals. Their efforts were very inspirational.”

The eco-classroom was designed to replace the energy-inefficient mobile classrooms.

The pupils researched this in depth and decided to use sustainable, local materials to construct their classroom.

They developed their project a step further by researching and experimenting with methods of renewable energy and produced a device based on the Faraday Effect that is powered by DCHS pupils walking back and forth to Bailiffgate between lessons to generate the energy.

They presented it at the Big Bang Fair’s regional event in July 2012 and won two out of four awards – Best Innovation and Best Overall project.

The pupils came away with a silver CREST award and £100 to further develop the project, as well as winning a place at the national finals.

The ExCeL event proved a great experience for the youngsters, who presented their ideas through a number of judging sessions.

As well as this, they had the chance to take part in and watch Guinness World Record attempts, talk to Nobel Prize winners in a Q&A session with Dermot Murnaghan of Sky News, view the prototype of the Bloodhound 1000mph car and discuss career opportunities with multinational companies such as Rolls-Royce and Shell.

While the school did not come away with a national prize, the pupils had an unforgettable time.

Peter Skirrow said the team worked together well to get as far as it did.