Engineering in the Woods

A practical, fun, team building, soft and hard skill development, Engineering themed project devised by Heather Clarke (Chartered Mechanical Engineer) and Mark Clarke (Educator) of Creativity, Design and Production for those interested in working and/or spending time with others in the great outdoors. Aiming to engage interest in and develop basic knowledge and skills relating to Engineering principles.

Elements of the challenge, incorporating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics):

· The building of a solution, Technical/Engineering

· The Creativity used in the solution, Artistic

· The overall speed of delivery of the solution, Science

· The accuracy of delivery, Mathematical

· Team working co-operation/leadership/negotiation skills used. Personal

Working as part of a team solve each stage of the challenge to design, build, test and operate the most effective working solutions. Each stage of the challenge is equally important although some are relatively more straightforward than others. If one stage is completed before another, team members are encouraged to support each other. The aim is to test the completed solution at the end of the workshop before dismantling and returning everything to as it was, leaving no trace.

The Brief

Transport a given quantity of Water (1 Bucket full) over a specified distance from station 1 to station 5 visiting stations 2, 3 and 4 on route to deliver specific quantities of water using the materials and equipment provided.

· Deliver half of the water you started with to Station 2,

· Deliver a third of the water you started with to Station 3,

· Deliver a fifth of the water you started with to Station 4,

· Deliver an eighth of the water you started with to Station 5.

Working out the quantities can take scientific and mathematical knowledge and understanding, or simply guess work, as no calibrated measuring devices are available. Is this possible?

At no time during the final operation of the solution must any member of the team set foot in the areas between the stations however team members can be assigned stations before the challenge begins or move between stations carried only by their creations.

The Challenges:

Station 1 to Station 2 – (Aqueduct Style Solution) A wooded area is an ideal environment to deliver this activity with many overhanging low branches however poles/broom handles and other materials can be used to create height if required. Good string and rope work needed as well as knowledge of gravity! The wind may cause issues with any solution and pegs can help as anchors if required. Difficulty levels can be obtained by having start and finish positions in a straight line, varying or similar heights, or by introducing bends around obstacles!

A completely mechanical system must be used to lift and tip water from the bucket at station 1. No direct human handling of the bucket is permitted at this station.

Station 2 to Station 3 – (Bridge the gap) An open area is ideal for this challenge. An ‘X’ meter wide stream can be imagined, marked out or if available a real stream can be used. (Pioneer style challenge). Good knowledge of structures and knot tying are useful. A vast array of solutions could be used of varying complexity. ‘KIS’ (Keep it Simple) is recommended in all activities.

Station 3 to Station 4 – (Rail) A relatively flat or level space would work best for this activity. Woodworking skills are required to build and secure the track and to build the train. Train and track can be assembled, part assembled, in kit form or raw materials provided to make the task more achievable/difficult dependent upon time available, knowledge, skill and ability of the group. To further increase the difficulty of this activity an obstacle could be introduced, eg a hump/hollow or bend to overcome. A tunnel could also be introduced made from Tarps and poles as an obstacle for the track to pass through.

Station 4 to Station 5 – (Go Kart) Most land environments can be used for this activity. A slight incline would work best. Woodworking and Engineering principles are required to design and build a Go Kart/Land Based vehicle capable of transporting a team member and/or the water from station 4 to station 5. Difficulty levels can be increased or reduced by making examples available or offering prefabricated parts. Breaking/Stopping should be a key consideration in the design and build of the solution.

Final Testing.

Consists of all solutions being linked as a continuous journey from Station 1 to Station 5 and the amounts of water delivered to each station being measured.

Celebration, Reflection and Lessons Learnt.

4 F’s, Facts, Feelings, Finding and Future used to structure thinking and responses for evaluative discussion.

All team members to dismantle all constructions and return everything to as it was found, leaving no trace.

The project was delivered twice at the Forest School Association (FSA) Annual Conference 2019

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