Should I host the IET Faraday Challenge at my school?
By Bob Easby, Westcliff High School for Boys
I first attended a Faraday Challenge with a group of Year 8 students from Westcliff High School for Boys on a cold January day in 2012. I was initially impressed at how a school hall, full of 36 excited 13-year-olds suddenly fell silent when the Faraday presenters began describing the day's challenge. The mood hardly changed with all the teams working diligently in, what for 13-year-olds, seemed to be total silence for the whole day. The boys were so enthusiastic on the way back to Westcliff that I resolved to try to host the event the following year.
Faraday Challenge Days are one-day STEM activities developed by the IET for six teams of six students aged 12-13 years for secondary schools, and also available for self-delivery in primary schools. The challenge days take place over approximately a six month period at schools throughout the UK.
The events give students the opportunity to research, design, and create solutions to a genuinely tough engineering problem, the IET not only supply all the materials, but also the manpower to deliver the day free of charge to the participating schools.
There is something to be gained by pupils of all academic levels by attending these events. In addition to the challenge of solving an often complex problem, pupils experience the advantage of team work, the value of planning and time management, learn budget control and practice negotiating skills. They enjoy the opportunity to put their academic knowledge of the STEM subjects into a practical context.
At each event, teams compete to win a prize for themselves and a trophy for their school. A league table is kept and at the end of the competition year the top three teams from across the UK get an all expenses paid trip to the National Final, generally held in June.