Trinity Professor Raises Awareness of Engineering in Primary School Children

Posted on: 20 February 2015

Professor Roger West from the School of Engineering at Trinity College Dublin visited St Oliver Plunkett National School as part of Engineers Ireland’s ‘Engineer’s Week’ with an exciting engineering challenge aimed to encourage the pupils to explore the world of engineering and science and to raise awareness about engineering as a career. 

He set 60 pupils, in small groups, the task of building the tallest tower possible from a single two page sheet from a broadsheet newspaper, using only sellotape and a scissors.  The tower had to hold an egg on top for at least five second to be eligible as the tallest tower, but, of the 15 eggs on offer for the students to select, only ten were hard boiled!

The reward for the winning team was to leave their hand-prints in  one of the world’s most environmentally friendly concrete slabs ever made, mixed at the school with a student’s help.  The concrete comprised 97% waste or recycled materials  containing 90% cement replacement, crumbled used tyres, waste quarry dust, recycled concrete and harvested rainwater, all bound together with crushed hemp to prevent any cracking.

The winning team from St Oliver Plunkett National School leaving their hand-prints in one of the world’s most environmentally friendly concrete slabs ever made with Prof Roger West.

“Trinity’s School of Engineering has a policy to support outreach activities in primary and secondary schools in order to promote the role of engineers in society and to attract high quality school leavers into the profession as a whole. This policy supports the Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme which last week held its ‘Engineer’s Week’ throughout the country,” explained Professor West.

To finish, Professor West showed how an engineer might approach making the tallest tower and, although not optimised, the spray-painted tower, made in advance, was 109cm high.  “A challenge for other budding engineers, perhaps?” he pondered.

St Oliver Plunkett National School in Monkstown, Co Dublin, is one of four special schools in the Irish Republic, which caters exclusively for children with specific reading difficulties (Dyslexia).