Youngsters from across Leicestershire and South Nottinghamshire were recognised for their achievements in the 2019 3M Young Innovators Challenge at a celebratory event.
Around 275 pupils, parents, teachers and judges attended the competition’s presentation evening, which took place at Loughborough College on Friday 14 June.
This year a record 181 teams took part - a total of 647 students from 45 primary and secondary schools and home educators. Following a rigorous two weeks of judging in May, these were narrowed down to 32 finalist teams and six winners – one for each of the competition’s challenges.
In each category, the winning team’s school will benefit from science and technology equipment worth £750, together with individual prizes for the students. 3M has also funded British Science Association’s CREST Awards for all participants, giving them a nationally recognised accreditation for their work.
The Slo-Mo Marble Challenge, which tasked primary school pupils with building a marble run that maximised the time taken for a glass marble to roll from top to bottom, was won by ‘The Marble Masters’, a team of Year 3 pupils from St Bartholomew’s Primary School, Quorn. Their unique design comprised many back and forth runs, cleverly using gradients and friction-generating materials to slow the marble’s descent.
Next up was the VizTech Challenge, supported by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) College in Loughborough. For this challenge, secondary school teams had to design and construct a product to help improve the life of a visually impaired young person.
The winner was ‘Blind Design’ from Woodbrook Vale School, Loughborough. This team of Year 9 students impressed judges with an innovative combination of furniture and sport, targeting visually impaired students’ leisure time with a basketball net and storage cupboard incorporating LED lighting and braille labels.
The third category was the Cargo Carrier Challenge, in which primary school teams had to design and build a floating vessel capable of carrying up to 5kg while remaining as lightweight as possible.
The winner was ‘HMS Rubik’, made by two brothers at Fairfield Preparatory School, Loughborough. Their incredibly lightweight vessel, inspired by the Rubik Cube, used thin sheets of polystyrene covered with clingfilm for water proofing. Detailed mathematics were used to calculate the exact size of hull needed to support the cargo, maximising the vessel’s strength-to-weight ratio.
In the Fragile Freight Challenge, secondary school teams had to design and build a system to transport cherry tomatoes down a vertical distance in a controlled manner - based on a real-life problem faced by communities in Nepal. The Mountaineers team from Loughborough High School won the category with an Aerial Ropeway model and impressed judges with their holistic approach to the challenge.
Next came the Mighty Monument Challenge to design and build a lightweight, freestanding structure to support a load of up to 5kg, held in a container 90cm above the structure’s base. It could be themed on either an existing world monument or a person or event relevant to the school’s locality.
The winner was ‘Oaktastic’ by two Year 5 students from Long Whatton Church of England Primary School, with a monument inspired by the school’s logo and an old oak tree in its grounds. A novel construction technique using tightly rolled and glued paper, hardened in the oven, producing a strong yet lightweight structure that easily held the 5kg.
Finally, in the ever-popular Science Detectives Challenge, secondary school students had to use forensic observation, analytical chemistry, social media analysis and suspect profiling to solve a crime scenario. For the second year running, Roundhill Academy in Thurmaston was successful.
The prize-giving presentations were followed by an address from Loughborough MP the Right Honourable Nicky Morgan, who also handed out certificates on the night.
Julie Owen, communications manager at 3M’s Loughborough site, said: “The event was a fantastic success. It was great to be able to showcase so many talented young people’s work and to recognise and celebrate their achievements”.