At the beginning of March, forty Southmead children from years 3-5 took part in the annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) challenge, run by the North Devon Manufacturers Association and NorthDevon+. This year the challenge was to build the highest tower capable of holding an egg, using only spaghetti and ten marshmallows. The children worked in teams of 4 and were given 15 minutes to complete the challenge. This eggceptional report was written by some of the children from class 5ADS who took part.
“First we arrived in the hall and waited for the judge, Lisa Hutchings, to arrive. When she arrived she told us all of the rules about making out tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. We were only allowed to use 10 marshmallows and a ¼ bag of spaghetti. We only had 15 minutes to make our sturdy, but high, structure to hold an egg. Each team had their own table to work on. After 15 minutes we stopped. Lisa measured each tower, then put an egg on it to see if it was sturdy enough. If your tower couldn’t hold an egg then your tower wouldn’t count. You could put more than one egg on the tower to get extra points. While it was holding the egg lots of people were really excited to see who would win the STEM challenge for Southmead.” Finley Grimshaw.
“When the towers were holding the eggs, everyone was so excited and we counted the 30 seconds out really loudly! It was such a fun day! It was fun and a great experience and I would love to do it again! So many people took part from Southmead and I’m really excited to find out where we came.” Cerys Plant and Harry Hebbard. “Everyone had made amazing towers, although some fell over when the builders had to let them go. Our tower was called the Spider crab. It had 10 legs and held up the egg for the 30 seconds. I really enjoyed the challenge. It was so exciting watching everybody cheering and the towers holding up the eggs.” Ezra Young.
“My team made a simple 1-storey tower. Then we put in some cross-supports. Then we made a small nesting area for the egg. Finally we put loads of downwards facing half marshmallows and then we put multiple strands of spaghetti out that attached to our tower, preventing it from falling. The Eiffel-tastrophe was complete! My team was the first to go through the ‘egg test’. It was so tense, yet exciting. In the end we managed to hold only one egg and we had a height of 40.5cm. A team of Year 3 children from 3EL were the last to be tested and it was actually them that did the best, with a whopping 51.5cm, which put Southmead ahead of every other school that had already competed in the competition, with only 4 schools left to compete!” Ed Cork.
Seventeen schools from across North Devon took part in the STEM challenge, this year. Prizes will be awarded to the school and team who built the tallest tower to hold an egg (£75), and the strongest tower which held the most eggs (£25). The winning school and team will also be invited to receive their award at the North Devon Manufactures Awards Evening in May, at The Barnstaple Hotel. At the time of writing, there is only one school left to go and Southmead are still in the lead! Watch this space. . . !
But we couldn’t have attended the competition at all without the brilliant support of a tremendous group of very helpful parents, and we would like to thank all those who came along and helped our team participate on this large site, keeping them safe among all of the other competitors and adults. A huge thank you in particular to: Mrs Nicholls, Mrs Guthrie, Mrs Skarzynski, Mr Cardew, Dr Fresch, and Dr Sturley.
The awards (and high-fives) were given out by Nick Thorne, local surfing champion and life-saving instructor. We hope that the pictures and reflections on the day by years 5 and 6 (below) give you a flavour of the tremendous team spirit and excitement enjoyed by all at the event. Mr. Corney.