Wilson's School

RI Engineering Courses

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by Ray Wang 9G

On Saturday 11 March, I walked into Trinity School with William Higgs, David Kuc, Ken Li and Alex Clifton to start what would turn out to be an incredible six week engineering Masterclass provided by the Royal Institution.

The Masterclasses are hands-on and interactive extracurricular sessions led by experts from the engineering industry from all around the UK. We attended them with around 40 other secondary school students from the area. Now I know what you're thinking: Saturday, morning and classes don't go too well together, but all of us were passionate for engineering and were keen get started on the activities. The course really inspired me, as I did many things that I thought I couldn't do, especially in just a few hours.

On arrival, we were split into two smaller groups to start the course. I was with William and David, Ken & Alex were in the other group. Each session would begin with some theory about the relevant subject before we started the practical activity.

During the course, we made loudspeakers, wooden bridges, robots, cardboard cars to test safety, paper rockets and arches out of card. My three favourite sessions were loudspeakers, robots and car safety.

The first week we made loudspeakers from scratch using powerful neodymium magnets, bits of paper and a polystyrene bowl, after doing some theory. Unbelievably, it was incredibly simple and after just half an hour of assembling the simple parts we were able to connect it to a phone and play music from it.

Personally, the third week was my favourite as we were making robots and programming motors to make wheels and the head move in different ways. The competition of best robot was also fun. What I liked most is that it was definitely something I didn't think that I could do, as I have always found electrical components to be a bit tricky, but at the same time I quite enjoyed writing programs, so it could be a mixed bag. I found it coming together really well and when we finally linked up the Bluetooth to the robot and ran the program I was amazed.

In the fourth week, we learnt about car safety. The safety features of a car were explained to us, the seatbelt, airbag and crumple zone. As an activity we had to modify a cardboard car to ensure that the passengers inside would survive. This involved strengthening the passenger section and weakening the bonnet to make an effective crumple zone. It was interesting to see the theory come together to create a working model.

Overall it was a really insightful experience into engineering, with useful real everyday applications. It was also fascinating to understand how objects and systems we take for granted actually work. I would definitely recommend this to anybody in year 7 or 8 who is interested in engineering and would like to pursue this in the future.