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School's Challenge - Nov 2017

As a direct consequence of our activities at this year’s Eisteddfod on Anglesey we were approached by the Gwynedd and Anglesey Post 16 Education consortium (funded by the Welsh Government) regarding organising an engineering workshop for the more talented year 12 students from secondary schools in the area.

We agreed to do this in conjunction with our colleagues within the Engineering Centre (ECNMW) and decided on the Generator challenge. This involves putting together a generator from Knex parts to include some purpose made elements (magnets and induction coils). We have used this challenge over a number of years at various school events and it has proved to be popular as well as requiring some technical skills.  

The structure requires a multi stage gearbox with sufficient structural integrity to allow manual cranking of the input shaft to generate power at the generator end, usually about 1-2 mV. The generator requires some careful thought with regards to mounting and wiring up the coils and setting the rotor gap.

Originally this was to be a two day event to include Pwllheli on the Lleyn peninsula. Unfortunately, the second day was cancelled. The numbers were made up of 20 girls and 9 boys from a total of six schools in the area, namely:

Ysgol David Hughes, Anglesey

Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, Caernarfon

Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor

Ysgol Friars, Bangor

Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle, Gwynedd

Ysgol Brynrefail, Gwynedd

The schools were divided into a total of 7 teams for the competition with the students deliberately mixed to allow them to network and make new friends.

The challenge ran for about 90 minutes and all seven teams succeeded in fulfilling the requirements and generated some electricity. Marking was based not only on the power generated but also on the number of components used, the aesthetics of the final structure and whether any repairs were necessary.

A winning and runner up team was established by the judges. The winner generated 1.6 mV with a very well made three stage gearbox. It was noteworthy that the two winning teams comprised 2 boys and 2 girls in each team.

This was an excellent event enjoyed by the students and the organisers who were looking at making this an annual event. The students performed extremely well and paid attention to all the advice and guidance in a respectful and positive way. 

Thanks to the organisers, volunteers and all who took part.

Gareth Cemlyn Jones

Chairman Merseyside & North Wales Region

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