Surrey pupils go head-to-head in hands-on construction challenge

Two hundred and forty pupils from Waverley Church of England Junior School in Tilford, near Farnham, have taken part in an educational challenge, with help from Beard. The youngsters had to design and build refugee shelters using real-life construction and engineering techniques.

The pupils, aged seven to 11, from Years 3 to 6, were taking part in The Mega Structures Challenge, organised by regional education charity SATRO, which helps young people develop functional Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills through hands-on experience with industry professionals such as Beard.

The Challenge organisers first explained to the pupils how people become refugees and why these shelters would be needed. Garry Bhela, Beard site manager, says: “In their teams of eight, each pupil took on a designated role, exactly as they would on a real construction project. Using rolled up pieces of paper, masking tape and nuts and bolts, the pupils had to use their creativity and problem-solving abilities to create the structural frame of a refugee shelter for a large family or a small group. In real life, this style of temporary shelter is supplied to refugees in a kit, which include steel poles and strong black plastic sheeting to be used as flooring and covering.”

At the end of the challenge, each team gave a short presentation explaining the key features of their structure. The structures were judged on their design and innovation and the winning teams were presented with Beard goody bags and multi-use vouchers.

Beard’s Garry Bhela says: “The Mega Structures Challenge is a great way to get young people inspired and excited about construction and engineering and the fantastic career opportunities these fields offer. Our industry faces a chronic skills shortage and we’re keen to work as much as possible in schools to enthuse and attract young men and women into the sector to deliver the homes, buildings and roads Britain needs. We’ve really enjoyed working with these talented youngsters and I hope some of them will consider a construction-, engineering- or design-related career in the future. It’s been great seeing them use their creativity and problem-solving skills to build these shelters.”

This is the fifth SATRO event which Beard has sponsored, and follows a Year 8 Construction Challenge at Collingwood College in Camberley.

Kate Redman, head teacher at Waverley Church of England Junior School says: “The school had an amazing day. The pupils were thoroughly engaged and challenged by the task and the challenge gave them an opportunity to cooperate, collaborate, compromise and work towards a common goal. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Thank you SATRO and Beard.”

Waverley Church of England Junior School pupils have also recently benefitted from an educational tour of Beard’s nearby Islamabad site, where the team is constructing a new Mosque, Multi-Purpose Hall, Accommodation and several teaching buildings.

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