Students’ hopes for clean sweep

Students at work in the challenge.
Students at work in the challenge.

Young scientists and engineers from Harrogate’s Ashville College are hoping to clean up during an international challenge devised by the eponymous founder of a world famous British engineering company.

The “Engineering Box Challenge” has seen the James Dyson Foundation deliver a “box of products” to the school, to aid pupils during practical lessons about design and engineering.

The Year 7–Year 11 pupils are now meeting twice a week for the next month to complete a series of tasks, the first of which is to disassemble and reassemble a selection of turbine heads.

The next step will be for them to work on an entire Dyson vacuum cleaner, dismantling it before putting it back together in working order.

The youngsters have also had the opportunity to not only discover the inner workings and designs used by Dyson, but also have a chance to attempt to reverse-engineer them.

Reverse-engineering is a central tenet of innovation and design, with the students examining individual parts of the products and analysing them in detail. From there, they will be able to work out ideas of how to change, improve or enhance the products.

Ros Ellis, Ashville College chemistry teacher and STEM scholarships co-ordinator, said: “The Dyson Engineering Box challenge is proving a real draw for our budding engineers, scientists and mechanics of the future.

“The students thoroughly enjoyed the first session and are eagerly awaiting the next time we meet.

“It is giving them a great opportunity to understand how this revolutionary vacuum cleaner works, and the different components needed to ensure it operates as it does.

“Additionally, it’s an added dimension to learning as they have something tangible to work with.”

More than 130,000 students in the UK and the USA have tackled engineering with the James Dyson Foundation Engineering Box, using screwdrivers and other tools to discover design clues and learn how machines work.